Why can’t our Port Commissioners select a clean, viable product for export from the port? A port that rightfully belongs to us — the citizens of Grays Harbor. I do not understand these autocratic decisions being made by the Port Commissioners.
First, it was coal to be exported — a dirty polluting commodity! Now, it is crude oil — oil that threatens our shorelines with almost certain spillage. Anyone with a modicum of common sense realizes this is bound to happen. When the spill occurs, not only the port is in danger; also the water and shorelines of the Chehalis, Satsop River and Wynooche rivers, numerous creeks and estuaries are in serious peril. We live in a unique environment. Grays Harbor is tidal, which means that any problems/pollutants encountered at the mouth of the Chehalis River will find their way up the river on the incoming tides.
So far, the port has offered no satisfactory assurances of containment of these crude oils. Yet, they move ahead with their projects. They do not have the answers for proper containment in the event of high winds, high tides, flooding — possible tsunami while tankers wait off shore in Grays Harbor to load up on crude oil.
Remember that in 2007-2009 our region had over 100 mph winds. Would an oil tanker handle that while in the process of loading? We must consider and question what an oil tanker failure along our pristine beaches would mean in terms of environmental holocaust! The point being whether anyone, the port and/or the proponents who stand to make a lot of money, has considered the possibility of such an occurrence and are these questions being properly addressed?
The transport of the oil by rail to the port is currently estimated to be 24 trains per week! Each carrying 120 single hull cars for a grand total of 2,880 cars per week! Not only must we question whether the rails can take this enormous increase in capacity, but who will be responsible for repairs? Can anyone involved in this endeavor guarantee no spills, ever? What if a train is derailed as happened recently to two trains up north in Washington? Single hull rail cars, loaded with crude oil lend themselves to punctures — resulting in disaster.
Please explain to us why we live on the Chehalis River and cannot even get permission to nudge a log out of the way if it threatens to increase chances of our flooding, yet the port can get permission to dredge, disturbing dioxins and other pollutants settled over the years and harmful to fish and wildlife — and citizens? This, in the name of crude oil shipping and profits which benefit a few. How can the Port Commission make these important decisions regarding our area without answering to anyone except big oil and corporate profits? That’s the final question. Hopefully there will be some answers.
Dave Hatley is an Aberdeen resident.