The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes has come out with a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that includes manufacturing and exporting xylene to Asia. Xylene (pronounced ZIE-leen) is a highly volatile, hazardous and toxic petrochemical which has never before been manufactured in our region and transported through our waters. This project will require 120 additional (annual?) tank vessel transits through the Salish Sea.
Named the “Clean Products Upgrade Project”, the only “clean” thing is Tesoro’s proposed upgrade to produce fuels with lower sulfur content. Safe Shippers support this part of the project only, but we strongly oppose the unclean part: xylene, the other toxic materials used in its manufacture, and the increased tank vessel traffic that increases the risk of an oil spill — or worse — a xylene spill.
Comments on the DEIS are being accepted through Monday, May 8.
Now is our chance to tell Tesoro why we think this is a very bad idea for the Salish Sea.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW REASONS WHY THIS PROJECT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ISLANDERS, ORCAS, AND THE SALISH SEA:
• Tesoro’s 2010 fatal refinery explosion and the refinery’s recent violation of the Clean Air Act raise questions about whether this refinery is prepared to safely manufacture and export xylene.
• More tank vessel traffic will increase the risk of xylene, reformate and propulsion fuel spills.
• The increase in vessel traffic also increases noise impacts to our endangered orca whales.
• A xylene spill would cause severe air quality impacts to our residents, visitors, boaters, first responders, and marine ecosystem.
• Any accident or spill from project vessels could cause delays to essential ferry traffic.
• Any spill from project vessels could cause impacts to boaters, fishers, and whale watchers.
• A project vessel spill would result in significant and long-lasting impacts to our islands’ natural beauty and tourism economy.
• The DEIS spill modeling did not include all the project cargos or any propulsion fuels or complications from adverse weather conditions — as required by state law.
SAFE SHIPPERS ASK THAT THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT INCLUDE:
• A project alternative that includes only the production of low-sulphur fuels (not the production and export of xylene).
• A full account of all greenhouse gas emissions from the project.
• Spill modeling methods and scenarios that have been developed in consultation with marine science institutions, environmental organizations, and local governments.
• Consultation with NOAA to fully address the project’s impacts to the state and federally listed as endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, including impacts from project vessel noise and spills of all cargos and propulsion fuels. If the project’s impacts to our orca whales can’t be mitigated, the project proposal should be denied.
• A comprehensive vessel traffic and spill assessment that analyzes all project cargos and propulsion fuels and all reasonably foreseeable future vessel traffic in the Salish Sea, including Canadian vessel traffic and the increase in the size of container ships calling at ports in the US and Canada.
• Mitigation of all impacts to Washington State Ferries, including the risk of disruption in service if there is a spill of any cargos and/or propulsion fuels.
• A requirement that all project-related laden tank vessels of any size be escorted by tugs that will assure safe transit through the Salish Sea east of Port Angeles.
• Economic and environmental impacts to the San Juan Island National Historical Park from all project-related vessel cargo and fuel spills.
• Potential damage to our region’s “beautiful marine environment” brand from all project-related fuel and cargo spills, including the impacts to tourism, vacation and retirement home revenues, and fisheries — impacts that will persist longer than the duration of any spill.
COMMENTS ARE DUE MONDAY, MAY 8, 2017
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS
Phone: (877) 685-7356 Record a message toll-free (five-minute time limit)
Mail: Tesoro Anacortes EIS, PO Box 21069, Seattle, WA 98111 (must be postmarked by May 8, 2017)
For more information: Skagit County Planning and Development Services (360) 416-1334 or info@TesoroAnacortesEIS.com
Tesoro: Anacortes Upgrades
Skagit County: About This Project
Sightline: What is xylene, and what does it mean for Puget Sound?
NOAA’s chemical datasheet on xylene
Sightline: How Tesoro’s petrochem plans may threaten Anacortes & the Salish Sea
KUOW: Ever Heard Of Xylene? It May Be The Next Big Thing For Anacortes
U.S. Chemical Safety Board: Tesoro Refinery Fatal Explosion and Fire
Occupational Health & Safety: Judge Hearing Appeal of Tesoro Anacortes Fine
The Center for Public Integrity: “Get someone up here. We’re all dying”.
(link includes video by Al Jazeera English. Warning: some content is very disturbing)