Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to require a Columbia River crude oil transport terminal to comply with federal laws meant to protect people and the environment from air pollution. The former ethanol production facility in Clatskanie, OR, has been quietly transformed into a terminal for the transport of millions of gallons of highly explosive Bakken crude oil.
The lawsuit charges Cascade Kelly Holdings and its owner, Global Partners LP, with trying to skirt Clean Air Act protections and avoid strict federal permit requirements while converting a bankrupt ethanol facility, constructed with tax dollars, into a high-volume Columbia River shipping terminal for extremely volatile crude oil.
The offloading of crude from trains to tanks and then barges at the terminal emits large quantities of volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants harmful to human health and the environment. The suit seeks penalties and a court order requiring Cascade and Global to cease operations at the oil terminal until they obtain the appropriate Clean Air Act permit.
Global has been moving dangerous, highly volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota on trains (prone to explosion and fire) through the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and other towns to the Clatskanie terminal at a rate of 300 million gallons in 2013, with no federal permit controls. Global intends to move at least 10 times more oil than that in the near future.
Cascade and Global have already run into trouble with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Using the ethanol facility permit, the companies asked for a “simple technical modification” to the permit to allow the receipt of a small amount of oil. Instead, the companies quickly converted into a full oil-shipping terminal, exceeding the small amount of oil allowed by the “simple modification” by six times, resulting in Oregon DEQ issuing a penalty order against them.