Comments due on Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal DEIS – January 22, 2016

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Tesoro Savage Petroleum Terminal in Vancouver, Washington is now ready for our comments. Safe Shippers submitted comment letters in December 2013 and August 2015 asking our State to consider islanders’ unique concerns — concerns about the impacts from this project on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, and concerns about the impacts from increased shipping in the Salish Sea if project-related ships transport crude or require bunkering (fueling) in our waters. By the omission of these concerns in the DEIS, it looks like they didn’t hear us, so let’s tell them again. It’s worth repeating!

Tesoro Savage proposes transporting 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily along the Columbia River by rail and then ships. This oil terminal, if built, would be the largest in the nation. It would receive crude oil by rail from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and diluted bitumen from the tar sands in Canada into the City of Vancouver where it will be transferred to marine vessels. The crude will then be transported down the Columbia River and out to sea, bound for various U.S. refineries or export overseas (now that the ban on U.S. crude export has been lifted). One possible refinery destination is Tesoro’s in Anacortes. 

The DEIS does not address any impacts beyond the project area, including the mouth of the Columbia River and 3 nautical miles out to sea, but what happens on the Columbia also affects us in San Juan County. Because the DEIS omits information on bunkering and vessel traffic in the Salish Sea, we need to ask them — again — to consider the impacts of oil tankers carrying potentially dangerous cargo through our island waters.

And what about the Orca whales who rely upon a healthy salmon population? The construction and operation of a new terminal, along with its increase in shipping traffic on the Columbia River, have the potential to negatively impact the salmon population at one of the feeding grounds of “our” Southern Resident Orcas. These Orcas are a major tourist attraction and economic driver for San Juan County. We need to ask our State to consider ALL of its residents.

A major oil spill, or the loss of the Orca whales, or any of the other potentially negative repercussions from this proposed project would directly and adversely impact our environment, economy, and quality of life here in San Juan County.

Let’s tell the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (who will make a recommendation to Governor Inslee) that we insist they protect our healthy marine environment from further harm. It’s not OK to spOIL our islands!

Comments are due 5:00 p.m. Friday, January 22, 2016.

Submit online:

Or by mail:
State of Washington
Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council
P.O. Box 43172
Olympia, WA 98504

WHAT THE DEIS SAYS (the complete document is here:

“The study area for vessel transportation includes a corridor extending 106 river miles along the Columbia River from the marine terminal at the proposed Facility to the Pacific Ocean, including an area extending 3 nautical miles (nmi) out to sea from the river’s mouth.”

“The approximately 223 percent increase in deep-draft vessel traffic associated with the proposed Facility could result in a moderate to major long-term effect on nearshore fish in the lower 33-mile portion of the Columbia River.”

“…it is assumed that bunkering would most likely not take place in the Lower Columbia River, but rather at the refineries in the Puget Sound…”

“Southern resident killer whales … are known to feed along the Washington and Oregon coasts, particularly in the Columbia River plume during yearly Chinook runs … They are likely to occur in the marine portion areas of the vessel corridor study area and within the Columbia River plume.”

“Killer whales migrating near the mouth of the Columbia River could be impacted by crude oil spills. The effect of vapor or oil inhalation on killer whales ranges from death to sublethal damage/mild irritation, depending on the concentration and length of exposure. Consumption of oiled prey could lead to ingestion of a large quantity of oil over time…”

Writing letters is the least we can do! How about sitting on the railroad track to stop an oil train?

Poster by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility showing the potential impact of this project on all citizens of our State:
Hearings packed with opposition to the proposed Tesoro Savage terminal:
Radio interview with Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of FRIENDS of the San Juans, discussing the increase in marine vessel traffic in the Salish Sea:

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