I am very disappointed with the way in which the issue of transporting oil to Grays Harbor is being handled.
It seems the only comments that residents of this area are allowed to make are with regard to the “scope” of the environmental study and not about the more basic question of whether we want oil on the Harbor at all.
I believe that the majority of the residents of Grays Harbor would vote against having the extraordinary risk of oil spills and environmental contamination forced upon us.
The rail operator, Genesee and Wyoming through its local subsidiary PSAP, has repeatedly shown its inability to operate the existing rail line in a safe manner as demonstrated by the numerous derailments and spills that have occurred recently. Genesee was also the operator of a train that derailed and spilled oil into a wetlands in Alabama last November.
That spill has still not been cleaned up — a foreshadowing of what most certainly will happen here at some point if the oil trains arrive.
In an article in The Daily World on May 24, representatives of Genesee go into great detail about their inspection procedures yet fail to explain why these procedures failed to prevent the recent accidents. The article also discusses the role of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in ensuring the safety of the rail lines, and it also notes that “The PSAP track was last inspected by the FRA April 29, the same day as the first derailment in Aberdeen.”
Obviously we can take little comfort from the ability of either of these two entities to protect us from an environmental catastrophe.
The June 17 edition of The Daily World identifies a number of Washington state legislators who have expressed concerns about the risks oil spills throughout the state. Neither of our state representatives nor our state senator have joined in that discussion. Representative Tharinger is on the House Environment Committee and should be in the forefront of trying to stop the oil trains, but I don’t believe that he has expressed any opinion yet.
I have made a number of calls to Rep. Tharinger’s office and expressed my concerns to his assistant and asked for his help. I would like to urge everyone who is concerned about the oil trains to call his office. Calling Rep. Kevin Van De Wege at and Sen. Jim Hargrove can also be helpful. I think they need to hear our voices directly.