Groups appeal crude oil plan

Westway Terminal Company’s plan to build a crude oil storage and shipping terminal in Grays Harbor may hit a roadblock, with two groups filing appeals with the state to stop the project.

The Quinault Indian Nation and a coalition composed of Friends of Grays Harbor, the Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Citizens for a Clean Harbor, the Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club each filed appeals with the state Shorelines Hearings Board regarding a shoreline substantial development permit issued by the City of Hoquiam and the state Department of Ecology.

Friends of Grays Harbor President Arthur Grunbaum said the coalition’s appeal is based on the City of Hoquiam and the Department of Ecology’s failure to take into account the sheer volume of oil that could be stored on Grays Harbor. Westway Terminal Company isn’t the only company looking to bring crude oil shipping to the Harbor — Imperium Renewables and U.S. Development also have plans to do so.

Westway Terminal Company and Imperium Renewables hope to expand existing facilities in the heart of the Port’s operations, and U.S. Development plans a completely new facility — with the largest storage capacity — near the Bowerman Field airport and national wildlife refuge.

“They did not consider the full impacts,” Grunbaum said. “Instead of dealing with the full picture, they segmented it into the different proposals.”

However, the permit was only issued to Westway Terminal Company. Imperium Renewables and U.S. Development will be required to go through their own permitting processes.

The three projects are early in the permitting stages, and a shoreline substantial development permit is the first of 13 permits each company must obtain before building. Several additional permits are required before the companies can begin operating.

Grunbaum said Friends of Grays Harbor and the other coalition members hope the state will require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before the companies can move forward with their plans. An EIS wasn’t initially required because the state Department of Ecology issued a mitigated determination of nonsignificance, meaning that any impacts to the environment aren’t significant.

But Grunbaum said the impacts of crude oil being shipped out of Grays Harbor could be more than just significant — they could be catastrophic.

“The probability of a spill is 100 percent,” Grunbaum said. “So the question is really how big the spill will be. If oil gets into the water, it destroys the marine resources and the fishing industries.”

The Quinault Indian Nation appeal also asks for an EIS, stating the the crude oil projects could have a negative impact on tribal fishing rights, the Grays Harbor estuary, safety, recreation and greenhouse gas emissions. Quinault Indian Nation representatives could not be reached for comment to the Daily World.

Brian Shay, city administrator for the City of Hoquiam, said the city has never had an appeal stem from a shoreline substantial development permit, and he’s confident that the permit was justly issued.

“I do not believe they’ll prevail in their appeals,” Shay said. “The City and the Department of Ecology had a very thorough review process.”

Shay said he expects the appeal to be heard within the next 30 days.