Hot off the press! “Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study”
Because of the many plans to move more oil to and through Washington State, Governor Inslee asked the Department of Ecology to conduct a “Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study” to analyze the risks to public health and safety, and the environmental impacts associated with the increased movement of oil in marine and inland areas, by vessel and rail.
A draft of the study was just released this week (view it here). You may have read the headlines:
Inslee urges stepped-up action to prevent oil-train spills
Inslee: Local responders need more preparation for oil train risks
Inslee worried about oil trains
Inslee calls for safer, slower oil trains
Inslee sounds alarm about oil trains
Inslee: More must be done to improve oil train safety
We are glad that our governor is paying attention, but we would like him to speak — and act — with equal concern for the safe transport of oil by vessel. We islanders have an opportunity to tell him so — either by attending a public meeting in Olympia on Thursday, October 30 or by submitting our comments before the meeting date.
Here’s what we want the Governor to hear:
* With the proposed increase in marine oil transportation and the related oil spill risks in our waterways, islanders need to know that we/our islands will be protected.
Since 2012, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington have seen new active proposals for four new coal terminals, three expansions of existing terminals, two new oil pipelines, eleven oil-by-rail facilities, and six new natural gas pipelines. At peak production, 2,620 additional large ships, some the size of the Empire State building, would transit in and out of those that are export terminals, passing along our island shores and through the Salish Sea.
* Oil spills know no boundaries. The US is depending too much on Canada to have the capability to respond to an oil spill even though the BC Environment Ministry itself says: “The province lacks the ability to manage oil spills from existing and future oil traffic, and even a moderate spill would overwhelm (our) ability to respond.” In order to respond effectively and aggressively to a major oil spill in San Juan County, we need an Emergency Rescue Towing Vessel (ERTV), oil spill response equipment, and trained personnel — resident within our own county.
Turn Point (located between Haro Strait and Boundary Pass) is recognized as a Special Operating Area by the US Coast Guard, requiring special procedures to reduce the risk of accidents and oil spills. The closest ERTV, in Neah Bay, cannot reach vessels in distress in Haro Strait or Boundary Pass in time to prevent an accident. If there is an oil spill in these waterways, oil spill response equipment would be required and, presently, it is stationed at least 7 hours away in Anacortes. Tell our Governor, “These are our waterways, too. We deserve better protection!”
NOTE: The study recommends (pages 60-61) that Ecology analyze the effectiveness of stationing an ERTV in “the vicinity of Turn Point”. While it is a good thing that the study recommends this, it is only a recommendation at this point. Please let the Governor know that it’s a “must do”, as far as we islanders are concerned.
ANOTHER NOTE: This study is 110 pages long — yes, that’s a lot to plough through, but for those who are interested in digging deeper, this is a great resource for understanding just how big this oil export picture is.
To submit comments:
Please send a copy of your comments to Senator Kevin Ranker and staff…
…and to our County Council members:
About the meeting on October 30:
“If people want to have their say to public officials at the state and say, ‘This isn’t going far enough,’ [this meeting] is the perfect place to do it.”
For more information on the public meeting in Olympia (including transportation to get there):
News articles about the draft Marine and Rail Transportation Study:
Community, officials have mixed reaction to state’s draft oil transportation report http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/community-officials-have-mixed-reaction-to-state-s-draft-oil/article_b62886f1-5f3d-5127-969d-4104d6f51e95.html
Put families and safety first
Inslee sounds alarm about oil trains
Links to maps, graphs and other info about oil transport in our region:
Audubon: Oil Transport
Fossil fuels and spill risk: A changing landscape
Thank you for speaking up for the protection of our islands!