Foss Maritime Plans to Illegally Use Port of Seattle Terminal for Shell's Arctic Drilling Homeport

Statement on City of Seattle’s investigation into Shell’s Arctic homeport lease


Betsy Lopez-Wagner, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2159

On Monday, Mayor Ed Murray announced that the Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s investigation found the Port of Seattle is in violation of its twenty-year-old shoreline permit by allowing Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet to use Terminal 5 as a homeport.

Mayor Murray called the findings an “opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters—and reject this short-term lease.”

The City’s May 4 decision is consistent with Earthjustice’s argument that Shell’s use of Terminal 5 is a change from the Terminal’s historical use as a cargo terminal and requires environmental review and the issuance of new permits.

Foss Maritime was quick to respond, calling it a dispute between the city and the port, saying the company “intends to continue work at Terminal 5 under our lease with the Port regardless of the mayor’s comments.”

On March 2 in King County Superior Court, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, The Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and Seattle Audubon Society. That legal challenge details the Port’s circumvention of public process and violation of the State Environmental Policy Act and asks that the lease be vacated by the court. 

Statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman on Foss Maritime’s disregard of the law:

“It is troubling that such a reputable company would take a public stance that it plans to act in violation of its lease and the law,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman. “Foss has a lease for use of Terminal 5 that prohibits it from occupying or using T-5 in a manner that would in any way violate any present or future legal requirements. Legal requirements refers to all laws, ordinances, building codes, zoning, and rules, regulations, which unquestionably includes the Shoreline Management Act and Seattle Shoreline Master Plan and Code that prohibit using shoreline property in violation of a permit.” 

A flag flies on Seattle's waterfront.
A view of Seattle's waterfront across Puget Sound. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

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