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September 30, 2016

Diverse Voices Call On City Of Hoquiam To Deny Oil Shipping Terminal Proposal

Final study of impacts released, finding significant and unavoidable threats to tribe, fishing, and public health

Contacts

Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1033

Mark Glyde, Resource Media and to contact Quinault Indian Nation, (206) 227-4346

Hoquiam, WA

The City of Hoquiam and Washington Department of Ecology today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Westway Terminal’s proposed oil shipping facility in Grays Harbor amidst widespread opposition and calls for the City to deny any permits. The FEIS comes after a successful challenge to the original permit, forcing a full environmental and public health review that received thousands of comment letters in overwhelming opposition. The release of the FEIS marks the start of the permit review process by the City of Hoquiam.

Location of the Grays Harbor.
Grays Harbor is located in the city of Hoquiam, along the Washington coast.

The Quinault Indian Nation, commercial fishing interests, local residents, and conservation groups oppose the proposed oil terminal and its risks of oil spills, fires, and explosions.

“If the final study provides a true account of risks to the safety, economy, and way of life of tribal members and our Grays Harbor neighbors, the City of Hoquiam will have a clear and defensible choice to deny any permits,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN). “The city has a responsibility to keep our communities and shared waters safe and productive, not put them at risk from oil train derailments and oil spills.”

“The study released today finds significant environmental and public health impacts that cannot be mitigated away, exposing the people and environment of Grays Harbor to increased and unjustifiable risks,” said Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice attorney representing the Quinault. “This project should be denied.”

The FEIS acknowledges significant impacts to tribal and commercial fishing from increased vessel traffic, significant harm to public health—especially the health of minority and low-income communities—from increased rail traffic, and economic costs to the broader community from terminal operation.  The FEIS also admits that water, plants, animals, recreation, commercial fishing, tribal and cultural resources, air, and human health could all experience significant harm from an oil spill along the rail route or in Grays Harbor.

“Our members agree with the judgement of the Washington Attorney General who opposed a proposed oil terminal along the Columbia River after weighing the benefits against the risks of an oil spill. We believe the same is true in Grays Harbor,” said Larry Thevik, Vice-President of the WA Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association. “We all know these terminals carry grave risks. A better path than crude oil is to protect and build on our strengths like commercial and recreational fisheries, shellfish aquaculture, and tourism.”

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has previously explained that “Grays Harbor is an area particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of oil spills.” Grays Harbor and surrounding waters support nearly 700 tribal and more than 3,000 non-tribal commercial fishing jobs. A recent study by the Greater Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce found nearly 6,000 tourism-related jobs in the County.

“Clean beaches, birds and wildlife, scenic beauty, and recreation opportunities are not only some of our most important economic assets, they are also the reasons many of us choose to live, work, and play in Grays Harbor County,” said Arnie Martin, President of Grays Harbor Audubon. “One oil spill in our harbor is one too many.”

Smoke from the derailment of the Union Pacific oil train in Mosier on June 3, 2016.
Photo by Earthjustice
Smoke from the derailment of the Union Pacific oil train in Mosier on June 3, 2016.

The fiery oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon in June 2016 demonstrated the far reaching dangers of crude-by-rail proposals in the Northwest. Oil trains bound for Grays Harbor would travel through communities along the rail line from Hoquiam to Chehalis and through Vancouver, the Columbia River Gorge, and Spokane.

“These proposals are a huge step backwards—they risk irrevocable harm to our communities and waterways and take us in the in the wrong direction for our climate,” said Rebecca Ponzio, director of the Stand Up To Oil campaign. “People across the Pacific Northwest have spoken: don’t sacrifice our health, livelihoods, and resources for the benefit of the oil industry.”

In a September 7  letter to the Washington Dept. of Ecology and City of Hoquiam leaders, the Quinault Indian Nation summarized the strong legal grounds the city has for denying a permit under the State Environmental Policy Act and the Quinault’s federally-reserved treaty fishing and gathering rights.

Aerial view of Grays Harbor, the site of a proposed, controversial crude-by-rail project.

Aerial view of Grays Harbor, the site of the proposed, controversial crude-by-rail project.

Photo provided by Quinault Indian Nation

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