Shell Refinery Pulls Crude-By-Rail Permit Application

by Tom Glade Tuesday, October 11, 2016 9:03 AM

With regards to Shell Oil’s decision to pull its permit application, Margaret Mead’s statement that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” must be revised to say “a large group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” in the face of powerful corporations and local, state, and federal governments. In mutual opposition to the extremely dangerous Bakken Crude oil trains traversing our state. Over the last two years, Evergreen Islands has worked with citizen groups and organizations across the state – from Spokane, over to the Columbia River, down to Vancouver, past Grays Harbor, Olympia, under Seattle, and all the way north to Bellingham.


While many, many people played a part in the effort to halt Shell Oil’s risky proposal, certain people deserve special recognition. Certainly, a pivotal person is Skagit County Hearing Examiner, Wick Dufford, who had the moral integrity to require an Environmental Impact Statement. Secondly, Jan Hasselman and Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice’s accomplished attorneys, deserve credit for not only successfully arguing against Skagit County’s Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance decision but also prevailing in Shell Oil’s court case challenging the Hearing Examiner’s decision.


In Skagit County, Earthjustice represented RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Friends of the San Juans, ForestEthics (now Stand), Washington Environmental Council, Friends of the Earth, and Evergreen Islands. But many non-profit organizations, homeowner associations, and private citizens are continuing their ardent efforts to protect the health and safety of – the humans in communities faced with similar perils – the threatened salmon and steelhead living in our rivers and bays - all the plants and animals living in the magnificent Columbia River, the mighty Skagit River; and the irreplaceable Salish Sea.


Shell Oil’s decision to withdraw its permit application may be a win-win outcome – Shell avoiding a premature financial decision and myriad communities avoiding an increased risk of disastrous crude oil train derailments. Evergreen Islands is willing to work with both the Shell Puget Sound Refiner and the Tesoro Anacortes refinery to achieve a just transition towards a low carbon economy.

 

Tom Glade

President, Evergreen Islands

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Evergreen Islands Comments on Tesoro Anacortes’ Xylene Plant on March Point

by Tom Glade Wednesday, March 23, 2016 4:20 PM

August 14, 2015

To: Dale Pernula, Director

Skagit County Planning & Development Services

1800 Continental Place

Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Cc: John Cooper, Skagit County Planner/Geologist

Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice

Evergreen Islands Board of Directors

Re: Comments PL15-0302, Shoreline Substantial Development

Tesoro Anacortes Clean Products Upgrade Project (CPU)

The following comments submitted are submitted on behalf of Evergreen Islands and its members regarding the application of Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company.

Introduction

Evergreen Islands has the following major concerns about the likelihood of significant adverse environmental impacts regarding Tesoro’s “Clean Products Upgrade (CPU) Project” proposal:

  • The establishment of a marine oil export terminal for petroleum products.
  • The increased marine oil shipping (5 tankers & barges/month) in the Salish Sea.
  • The potential for shipping crude oil from the proposed marine oil export terminal without a full environmental impact analysis

Discussion

Marine Export Terminal

Essentially Tesoro is proposing to modify its March Point wharf to serve as an oil product export terminal. Tesoro Clean Products Update project proposes to manufacture, store and ship mixed xylenes “by marine vessel via the existing Anacortes wharf facility.”[1]

Correspondingly, Tesoro’s SEPA checklist[2] states that “the proposed Clean Product Update Project will increase vessel traffic in Fidalgo Bay by up to five (5) marine vessels per month for transportation of feedstock and finished products to and from the existing Tesoro Wharf.”

The following sections provide background as to the potential oil export applications or opportunities provided by Tesoro’s Clean Product Update project.

Oil Product Exportation

A Reuters’s article[3] in 2014 states the following (emphasis added):

Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO) today announced plans to produce petrochemical feedstock in its U.S. West Coast refining system. The Company intends to gather intermediate feedstock, primarily reformate, from its West Coast refining system for xylene extraction at Anacortes, Washington. The initial investment, estimated to be around $400 million, is designed to recover up to 15,000 barrels per day of mixed xylene. The mixed xylene will mainly be exported to Asia and is used to make polyester fibers and films for clothing, food packaging and beverage containers.

Additionally, “supplemental feedstock to the Aromatics Recovery Unit (ARU) will be received from outside sources by marine vessel and unloaded using the existing refinery wharf system.”[4]

The Nexus between Tesoro’s Vancouver Terminal & the Tesoro’s Clean Products Upgrade Project

The EFSEC Scoping Notice[5] describes Tesoro’s proposed Vancouver Terminal as follows:

Tesoro Savage Petroleum Terminal LLC (Applicant) is proposing to construct and operate the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal (Project). The proposed Project, at full operation, will receive up to an average of 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Midwest North America at the Port of Vancouver, WA (Port) in Clark County. Crude oil received by rail will be unloaded on site, stored temporarily, then loaded onto marine vessels at the Project site, primarily for delivery to refineries located on the United States West Coast.

Note that Tesoro’s proposed marine terminal at Vancouver and Tesoro’s proposed marine terminal on March Point are conceptually the same – 1) receive an oil product by train, 2) store an oil product, and then 3) export the oil product by tanker or barge.

A July 2015 letter[6] from the Port of Vancouver to Governor Inslee’s office describes the progress of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as follows:

We are now in month 22 of this 12-month process, and we just received word that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is once again delayed and not scheduled to be released for public comment until November 2015.

If you, the SEPA responsible official, fail to issue a Determination of Significance for Tesoro’s proposed marine oil terminal, Tesoro will be able to skirt the requirements to evaluate the environmental impacts that were required of the Tesoro’s proposed marine oil terminal in Vancouver.

Since the March Point refinery currently is permitted to import 50,000 bbl/day by oil train and the proposed the Vancouver oil terminal will import 360,000 bbl/day by oil train, the March refinery’s potential for exporting crude oil are significantly (~ 1:7) than the proposed Vancouver oil terminal. However the March Point refinery receives crude oil from several sources, whose supply may increase in the future.

Tesoro Can Import More Bakken Crude Oil Than Originally Planned

The SEPA Checklist[7] for Tesoro’s ‘Crude Oil Unit Railcar Unloading Facility’ stated that the facility “will be designed to accommodate one loaded 100 car unit train every other day.”

An August 2014 article[8] in the Anacortes American reports that Tesoro plans to import more Bakken crude oil than Tesoro initially declared. The American article states the following (emphasis added):

Tesoro Corporation will be shipping more Bakken Shale crude oil to its March Point refinery than originally planned once its new rail unloading facility is up and running.

The announcement was made during the company’s 2012 second quarter report on Aug. 1.
The refinery originally expected to ship and receive an average of 30,000 barrels of crude per day. The refinery is now permitted to receive 50,000 barrels per day, according to the report. The company announced in March the amount was going up to 40,000 barrels per day with an expected unit train arriving at the facility every other day to start.
The most recent numbers add up to one unit train six days a week, President and CEO Greg Goff said, according to Reuters news service. Each unit train will have 100 dedicated rail cars.

Tesoro’s Potential to Ship Bakken Crude Oil to Its Kenai Refinery

A June 2013 Petroleum News-Bakken article[9] states, “Tesoro headquarters says there is some discussion about taking the oil, via tanker, to the company’s Kenai refinery at Nikiski on Southcentral Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.”

A later Petroleum News-Bakken article[10] in February 2014 states, “Tesoro also shipped a barge load of Bakken crude from the West Coast to its refinery in Kenai, Alaska, in 2013 during a turnaround at the Anacortes refinery in March, with positive economic results.”

A May 2015 Argus News article[11] states the following (emphasis added):

Tesoro will deliver 1.6mn bl of Bakken crude into its Alaska refining system in the first half of 2015 as the midcontinent crude continues to upend traditional west coast slates.”

Tesoro plans to use a 360,000 b/d proposed rail offloading terminal in Vancouver, Washington, to supply its west coast refining system including Kenai with greater volumes of Bakken crudes.

US Export Ban May Be Lifted

An article[12] in the July 2015 edition of the Puget Sound Business Journal states the following (emphasis added):

Last week, top executives of four leading U.S. oil companies sent a joint letter to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, pressing for repeal of the 30-year ban on crude oil exports.
“Allowing U.S. crude oil access to world markets will help expand American exports in general, create benefits for our economy and U.S. consumers, and promote a more resilient global oil market,” said the letter, signed by Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron Corp. and BP Fuels

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

The Kinder Morgan website[13] describes the Trans Mountain Pipeline as follows (emphasis added):

In operation since 1953, the Trans Mountain pipeline system (TMPL) is the only pipeline system in North America that transports both crude oil and refined products to the west coast. TMPL moves product from Edmonton, Alberta, to marketing terminals and refineries in the central British Columbia region, the Greater Vancouver area and the Puget Sound area in Washington state, as well as to other markets such as California, the U.S. Gulf Coast and overseas through the Westridge marine terminal located in Burnaby, British Columbia. Only crude oil and condensates are shipped into the United States.

TransMountain_Map_thumb1

http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TransMountain_Map.pdf

In Washington State, the Trans Mountain Pipeline[14] provides product to the BP Amoco Cherry Point Refinery, Conoco Philips Ferndale Refinery, Tesoro Anacortes Refinery, and the Shell Anacortes Refinery.

In December 2013, Kinder Morgan filed “comprehensive application with the NEB (Canada’s National Energy Board)” for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. According to the Kinder Morgan website[15] (emphasis added), “Filing of the application initiated a regulatory review of the proposed expansion facilities. If the regulatory application process is successful, construction of the new pipeline could begin in 2016. The expanded pipeline would be operational in late 2018.

The Naphtha Hydrotreater (NHT) Expansion

Tesoro’s SEPA Checklist[16] states that the Naphtha Hydrotreater (NHT) will be expanded “to process 46,000 barrels of naphtha per day.”

In April 2010, the Naphtha Hydrotreater ruptured killing seven Tesoro employees. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s accident investigation report[17] states the following (emphasis added):

On April 2, 2010, the Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company LLC (“Tesoro”) petroleum refinery in Anacortes, Washington (“the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery”), experienced a catastrophic rupture of a heat exchanger in the Catalytic Reformer / Naphtha Hydrotreater unit (“the NHT unit”). The heat exchanger, known as E-6600E (“the E heat exchanger”), catastrophically ruptured because of High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA). Highly flammable hydrogen and naphtha at more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (ºF) were released from the ruptured heat exchanger and ignited, causing an explosion and an intense fire that burned for more than three hours. The rupture fatally injured seven Tesoro employees (one shift supervisor and six operators) who were working in the immediate vicinity of the heat exchanger at the time of the incident. To date this is the largest fatal incident at a US petroleum refinery since the BP Texas City accident in March 2005

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board issued Recommendation 2010-08-I-WA-15[18] to the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery. The recommendation is as follows:

Implement a process safety culture continuous improvement program at the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery including a written procedure for periodic process safety culture surveys across the work force. The process safety culture program shall be overseen by a tripartite committee of Tesoro management, USW representatives, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries – Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This oversight committee shall:

  • a. Select an expert third party that will administer a periodic process safety culture survey;
  • b. Review and comment on the third party expert report developed from the survey;
  • c. Oversee the development and effective implementation of action items to address identified process safety culture issues; and
  • d. Develop process safety culture indicators to measure major accident prevention performance.

The process safety program shall include a focus on items that measure, at a minimum, willingness to report incidents, normalization of hazardous conditions, burden of proof of safety in plant process safety programs and practices, and management involvement and commitment to process safety. The periodic process safety culture report shall be made available to the plant workforce. The minimum frequency of process safety culture surveys shall be at least once every three years.

The status of the recommendation is “Open - Acceptable Response or Alternate Response,” which is defined as “Response by recipient indicates a planned action that would satisfy the objective of the recommendation when implemented, including a written timetable for completion.”

Refinery Water Consumption

Chapter 4[19] of the 2011 Anacortes Water System Plan states the following:

Anacortes is unique in that it has two large industrial customers that comprise the bulk of the consumption. Shell and Tesoro collectively account for 69% of consumption. The rest of Anacortes’ retail consumption (residential and commercial) collectively represents 10% of consumption. The remaining 21% of consumption is attributed to Anacortes’ various wholesale customers.

Table 4-4 of the plan indicates that both the Shell Refinery and the Tesoro Refinery each use over 2 billion gallons of water per year.

Governor Inslee’s statewide drought declaration[20] states the “snowpack is at historic lows, rivers are dwindling and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.”

However the SEPA Checklist makes no mention of potential increases in water consumption.

Conclusion

Evergreen Islands recommends that you, Skagit County’s responsible official for SEPA projects, issue a Determination of Significance requiring an Environmental Impact Statement that will answer the following questions as to a whether this project “is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact”:

  • What are the impacts of the increased oil vessel traffic (5 tankers & barges/month) in the Salish Sea?
  • What is the potential for crude oil exportation from Tesoro’s marine terminal update
  • How many oil trains traverse Skagit County each week?
  • How many oil trains does the Tesoro refinery receive per week?
  • Will the number of oil trains per week increase as due to the production of xylene?
  • If the number of oil trains increase, will Skagit County delay approval of Tesoro’s application until the EIS for the Shell Puget Sound Refinery is completed?
  • What are the Marine Vapor Emission Control (MVEC) Emissions due to Displaced Marine Vessel Vapors ?
  • What are the Marine Vapor Emission Control (MVEC) Emissions due to Assist Gas?
  • What are the Marine Vapor Emission Control (MVEC) Total Emissions?
  • What are the Xylene Oil Storage Tank Emission Rates?
  • What are the Xylene Storage Tank’s Toxic Air Pollutant (TAP) Emissions?
  • What are the Clean Product Update project’s Daily Emissions and Annual Emissions?
  • Will the Marine Terminal be used to ship crude oil, especially highly explosive Bakken Crude Oil, to Tesoro’s Kenai refinery or other West Coast refineries?
  • Regarding the Naphtha Hydrotreater, is Tesoro complying with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s safety recommendations?
  • Will the Naphtha Hydrotreater unit be “super safe” such that no further loss of life occurs?
  • If the project results in an increase in the number of oil trains traversing Skagit County, will Skagit County postpone the approval of the project until the Shell EIS is completed?
  • In this time of severe drought statewide, will the project consume more water from the Anacortes?
  • If the Tesoro/Savage oil export in Vancouver is further delayed, will Tesoro start exporting Bakken Crude from the CPU marine terminal?

Attachment 1 includes additional environmental impact study scoping questions adapted from the EIS Scoping for the proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal project.

Respectfully yours,

clip_image002_thumb6

Tom Glade

President, Evergreen Islands


REFERENCES


[1] Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA), “Clean Products Upgrade (CPU) Project,”

Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC, June 22, 2015. p. 7.

[2] State Environmental Policy Act Checklist, “Clean Products Upgrade Project,”

Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC, June 22, 2015. p. 33.

[3] Ibid. p. 7.

[4] “Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal”, Determination Of Significance Scoping Notice,

Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), October 1, 2013.

[5] “Tesoro Corporation Announces New Petrochemical Feedstock Project,” Reuters, July 21, 2014

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/21/idUSnHUGW4GCqa+1ec+ONE20140721

[6] Letter from Port of Vancouver to Governor Jay Inslee, “Regarding the DEIS Schedule”, July 7, 2015.

http://www.efsec.wa.gov/Tesoro%20Savage/20150707PortVancLtr.pdf

[7] Skagit County SEPA Checklist, “Tesoro Unit Train Unloading Facility,” July 25, 2011. p.2

[8] “100-car unit train expected at Tesoro this month,” Anacortes American, August 15, 2012

http://www.goanacortes.com/news/entry/100_car_unit_train_expected_at_tesoro_this_month

[9] “Bakken oil to feed Kenai refinery?” Petroleum News Bakken, June 03, 2012.

http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/980524821.shtml

[10] “Tesoro finishes year of accomplishments”, Petroleum News Bakken, February 16, 2014.

http://www.petroleumnews.com/bkpdfarch/5890767.pdf

[11] “Tesoro moves Bakken to Alaska”, Argus News, May 08, 2015.

https://www.argusmedia.com/pages/NewsBody.aspx?id=1036420&menu=yes

[12] “Big oil push for crude exports could bring more oil trains through Washington state”,

Puget Sound Business Journal, July 27, 2015.

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2015/07/27/big-oil-push-for-crude-exports-could-bring-more.html

[13] “Trans Mountain Pipeline System,” Kinder Morgan website.

http://www.kindermorgan.com/pages/business/canada/transmountain.aspx

[14] “Trans Mountain Pipeline & Puget Sound Pipeline Delivery & Receipt Locations,” Kinder Morgan website.

http://www.kindermorgan.com/pages/business/canada/delivery_receipt_locations.aspx

[15] “Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project,” Kinder Morgan website.

http://www.kindermorgan.com/pages/business/canada/tmx_expansion.aspx

[16] Ibid 2, p. 8.

[17] “Investigation Report,” U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, April 2, 2010, p.1.

http://www.csb.gov/assets/1/7/Tesoro_Anacortes_2014-May-01.pdf

[18] “Tesoro Refinery Fatal Explosion and Fire,” U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

http://www.csb.gov/tesoro-refinery-fatal-explosion-and-fire/

[19] City of Anacortes 2011 Water System Plan; Chapter 4, Planning Data and Demand, p. 4-7.

http://www.cityofanacortes.org/docs/Engineering/WaterSystemPlan/Chapter_4.pdf

[20] “Governor declares statewide drought emergency,” The Office of the Governor, May 15, 2015.

http://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/governor-declares-statewide-drought-emergency


ATTACHMENT 1

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY SCOPING ISSUES

Environmental Impact Study Scoping Issues

Will reasonable alternatives to the proposed project be considered, including consideration of alternative sites, alternative transportation routes, and alternative sources of energy?

What are the impacts from air emissions, dust, and odors from facility operations; including possible health effects from release of air toxics? Includes general comments regarding air quality and air pollution?

What are the impacts from exhaust emissions from diesel-electric locomotives?

What are the impacts from exhaust emissions from marine vessels operating on the Salish Sea or moored at the loading dock

What are the effects on global climate change?

What are the cumulative impacts from other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects on the project site or in the project vicinity?

What are the cumulative impacts associated with other crude oil and coal terminal projects, including associated rail and marine operations? Category includes general

What are the impacts at point of resource extraction and/or end use?

What are the best practices for national energy policy, fossil fuels vs. renewable energy (wind, solar, biofuels), and energy conservation?

What are the impacts on fish, wildlife, and vegetation?

What are the potential onsite impacts on fish, wildlife, vegetation, wetlands, threatened and endangered species from construction and operation of the proposed project, including habitat removal, introduction of exotic plants and invasive marine organisms; disturbance, displacement, and direct mortality from construction activities; and oil spills in upland areas or in the marine vessel loading area?

What are the potential offsite impacts on fish, wildlife, vegetation, wetlands, or threatened and endangered species from increased marine vessel operations on the Salish Sea, including the introduction of invasive marine organisms; disturbance, displacement, or direct mortality due to collisions, propeller strike, or wake stranding, and impacts from a limited or catastrophic oil spill involving a tanker?

What are the potential offsite impacts on fish, wildlife, vegetation, and threatened and endangered species from off-site train operations, including disturbance or direct mortality due to collisions, disruption of migration routes, and impacts from a limited or catastrophic oil spill and/or fire?

What are the hazards associated with onsite geology, soils, erosion, earthquakes, liquefaction, including the shoreline area?

What are the geologic conditions along rail or marine transportation routes?

What are the impacts to archaeological resources, historic buildings, or tribal concerns?

What is the volatility of crude oil and the risk of fire and/or explosion at the project site (including security/terrorism concerns)?

What is the volatility of crude oil and the risk of fire and/or explosion along rail or marine transportation routes (including security/terrorism concerns)?

What are the concerns about oil spills at the project site and the marine loading area?

What are the concerns about oil spills along rail and marine vessel transportation routes?

What are the impacts of noise from plant operations?

What are the impacts of noise along rail and marine transportation routes?

Is there release of toxic or hazardous materials from disturbance or excavation of contaminated soils or sediments located on the project site?

Will studies study of potential acute/chronic health effects from exposure to air toxics, particulates, and contaminated water due to normal operations and/or accidental releases or spills be conducted?

What are the adequacies of existing emergency plans and the ability of the local police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel to respond to major accidents that result in catastrophic oil spills, explosions, or fires at the project site or vessel loading area?

What are the adequacies of existing emergency plans and the ability of local police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel to respond to derailments, collisions, other accidents that result in catastrophic oil spills, explosions, or fires along offsite rail transportation routes?

What are the adequacies of existing emergency plans and the ability of local police departments, fire departments, emergency medical personnel to respond to vessel collisions, groundings, or other accidents that result in catastrophic oil spills, explosions, or fires?

What are the abilities of plant operators and the BNRR to implement emergency response plans and spill response plans in the event of train derailments or collisions, vessel loading mishaps, vessel collisions and groundings, or other accidents resulting in limited or catastrophic oil spills?

Is the proposed project consistent with adopted land use plans and zoning?

What is the compatibility of the proposed project with nearby residential land uses and Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve

What is the purpose and need for the project?

What are the increased demands on public services (police, fire, emergency medical services) and public utilities (water, sewer, electricity) during normal plant operations?

What are the potential negative effects on local and regional recreational resources (i.e. parks, trials, and the Salish Sea, the San Juan Island Archipelago, Padilla Bay and Fidalgo Bay)?

What are the positive impacts on jobs, economic growth, and local and state tax revenue?

What are the negative impacts on property values, quality of life, attraction of new residents and businesses, and tourism?

What are the potential impacts from plant construction and operation on local vehicular traffic and safety and transportation in general?

What are the impacts from concerns over increased numbers of oil tankers operating on the Columbia River, including the increased risk of ship collisions and groundings?

What are the impacts from concerns over increased train traffic in the Vancouver metropolitan area and along major rail corridors in Washington State, including increased traffic delays and delays to emergency vehicles at railroad crossings, interference with the movement/circulation of people and goods, and increased risk of derailments and accidents?

What are the visual or aesthetic impacts of the new facility on existing views or vistas?

What are the visual or aesthetic impacts of additional trains operating in Skagit County

What are the potential impacts on bays, rivers, streams, ground water, and aquifers near the project site from limited or catastrophic oil spills?

What are the potential impacts on the Skagit River, Padilla Bay, Fidalgo Bay, the San Juan Island archipelago and the Salish Sea from limited or catastrophic oil spills?

What are the potential impacts on bays, rivers, streams, and aquifers located along major rail routes from limited or catastrophic oil spills?

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Steve Clark’s Passing

by Tom Glade Sunday, December 13, 2015 12:58 PM

For many years, Steve Clark has played a vital part in Evergreen Islands’ efforts to protect this place we call home - excelling as our spokesperson in protecting our Northwest’s exquisite natural environment. While most people are uncomfortable speaking publically, Steve welcomed the many ‘opportunities’ with a profound self-assuredness.

Under Steve’s leadership as our president, Evergreen Islands –

Appealed Skagit County Comprehensive Plan Amendments in 2000, 2005, and 2007 to protect the ‘rural character’ of Skagit County’s marine islands (Fidalgo, Guemes, Cypress, Sinclair, Vendovi, Burrows, etc.)

Compelled the City of Anacortes to adopt a Critical Areas Ordinance, which currently protects our City’s natural environments.

Protected the waters of Turner’s Bay from a proposed equestrian park above the bay.

Preserved the Firs on the Crest above our Community Forest’s Mitten Pond.

And thwarted efforts to urbanize south Fidalgo Island.

Changing history is a formidable undertaking, but through his dedication and vision, Steve Clark has changed our history for the better.

We miss Steve immensely.

Stephen Michael Clark

clip_image002Stephen Michael Clark, died peacefully in his home with his family at his side on Nov. 25, 2015, in Anacortes. He was 68.


Steve was born on Sept., 23, 1947, in Evansville, Indiana, to June and Joseph Clark. During his youth, he lived in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia and spent many summers on his uncles’ farms in Johnson, Indiana. Steve lived in San Francisco and Homer, Alaska, before meeting his wife Janet and making Anacortes his home for more than 32 years.


Steve graduated from Pembroke State University in North Carolina and received a Master of Arts degree from Western Washington University. Steve was a teacher at Mount Vernon High School for 28 years. He coached debate, led students on back-country hiking trips and taught freshmen Honors English, Speech and Advanced Placement English. Steve loved teaching the classics to young minds and enjoyed seeing his students step into the world to pursue their education and their dreams, but most importantly, he loved helping students realize their unique potential.


Steve dedicated much of his free time to outdoor pursuits. Whether kayaking the San Juans, hiking the North Cascades or working in the garden with Janet, Steve found both inspiration and spiritual reflection out of doors. His love of nature was also reflected in his conservational efforts with the nonprofit Evergreen Islands.


Steve was an inveterate reader, writer and traveler. His life-long appreciation for literature often guided his and Janet’s travels together: England through the words of Dickens and Virginia Woolf, Spain and perhaps Kilimanjaro via the exploits and words of “Big Papa.” Intrigued by living in other cultures, Steve was awarded two year-long Fulbright grants, teaching in both Istanbul, Turkey, and Brno, Czech Republic. Steve is survived by his wife, Janet, his children, Kate Clark (San Diego) and Jesse Davis (Olympia), daughter‑in‑law Molly Voris and granddaughters Lily, Rose and Louisa Davis. He also leaves behind his siblings Jim Clark (Milton, DE), Nancy Drake (Ojai, CA) and Tom Clark (Great Falls, VA) as well as an extended family of relatives and dear friends across the country and throughout the world.

 
In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, the family requests donations to Evergreen Islands conservation group, P.O. Box 223, Anacortes WA 98221.

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BNSF Skagit River Bridge

by Sandra Spargo Sunday, August 16, 2015 10:19 PM

1995 Flood - Damage to BNRR Burlington Bridge

City of Burlington and City of Sedro Woolley’s Request

to Replace BNSF’s Aging Skagit River Bridge

The bridge is 99 years old. The following request was made before substantial oil train traffic.

In June 2009, the City of Burlington and the City of Sedro Woolley included the replacement of the BNSF Skagit River Bridge on the Council of Governments’ priority project list, as follows:

  • Built in 1916, this bridge is a hazard to itself and the adjacent levee system. Debris buildup upstream of the bridge in 1995 caused the bridge to fail and almost caused the adjacent left bank levee to fail.
  • We believe the bridge is a strong candidate for funding from the $8 billion Intercity High Speed Passenger Rail Program from which Washington could receive $400 - $600 million.
  • Bridge replacement is supported by Dike Districts 12, 17 and 1; but not by 3 (left bank downstream of Mount Vernon) or 22 (Fir Island).

According to the Washington State BNSF Skagit River Bridge Debris Management Study, June 2007,

  • Local stakeholders have sought to obtain funding to replace the BNSF Rail Company’s (BNSF) Skagit River Bridge, because debris has accumulated at the piers and results in overflow to nearby levees. In addition scour at bridge piers could potentially led to bridge failure. In 1995, one of the piers was damaged, which led to bridge closure for several days.
  • A team comprised of local stakeholders and representatives of the BNSF met to discuss various alternatives. As the study progressed, BNSF withdrew from the project team, because the railroad believed that the study would not address ways to prevent debris from reaching their bridge. Further, the railroad maintained that their current debris management practices were effective and that the bridge was not at risk of failure during flood events.
  • Lack of participation by BNSF created a dilemma for the project team, because BNSF owns the bridge under study. Another challenge facing the project team was to develop alternatives in which BNSF could participate, despite the fact that the railroad is not subject to debris management regulations imposed by state and local agencies.

During FY 2011, Senator Patty Murray requested $120,000 to help fund a comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of replacing the BNSF Skagit River Bridge for the purpose of reducing flood risk.

The Summary of the requests states:

Importance: The BNSF Skagit River Bridge is a known hazard to the adjacent levees during Skagit River flooding. If the bridge induces failure of the adjacent levees, the neighboring cities of Burlington and Mount Vernon would flood, Interstate 5 would flood and shut down and the mainline rail would shut down.

If the BNSF Skagit River Bridge were to fail, an oil spill would impact our downstream, potable water supply.

The Anacortes water treatment plant is located alongside the Skagit River in Mount Vernon and downstream from the BNSF Skagit River Bridge. The water treatment plant serves approximately 56,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers. The plant is the primary source of water for Shell and Tesoro refineries, which draw more than 60 percent of the potable water from the plant; the cities of Anacortes, La Conner and Oak Harbor; the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station; and a significant portion of Skagit Public Utility District No. 1.

Bridge Safety Standards

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

Part 237 (As of Jan. 26, 2015)

237.103: Bridge inspection procedures.

(a) Each bridge management program shall specify the procedure to be used for inspection of individual bridges or classes and types of bridges.

(b) The bridge inspection procedures shall be as specified by a railroad bridge engineer, who is designed as responsible for the conduct and review of the inspections. The inspection procedures shall incorporate the methods, means of access and the level of detail to be recorded for the various components of that bridge or class of bridges.

(c) The bridge inspection procedures shall ensure that the level of detail and the inspection procedures are appropriate to the configuration of the bridge; conditions found during previous inspections; the nature of the railroad traffic moved over the bridge (including equipment weights, train frequency and length, levels of passenger and hazardous materials traffic); and vulnerability of the bridge to damage.

(d) The bridge inspection procedures shall be designed to detect, report and protect deterioration and deficiencies before they present a hazard to safe train operation.

Refer to 49 CFR 237.109 – Bridge Inspection Records

A reasonable expectation is that the hearing examiner would examine inspection logs before coming to a conclusion regarding the adequacy of BNSF inspections and repair/replacement of the bridge. In fact, the bridge’s handling of increased oil traffic without establishing that BNSF has, in fact, has inspected the bridge and corrected deficiencies should require examination of records that become public.

BNSF Swinomish Channel Swinging Bridge

SwinomishChannelBridge_Built1891

Sixty-two years old, located at the north end of the Swinomish Channel

In 1953, Foss tugs hauled a 775-ton, 368-foot, swing, draw-span from a construction yard on Seattle’ Duwamish Water to the north end of the Swinomish Slough, near Anacortes, for installation on the Great Northern Railway’s branch line between Burlington and Anacortes. The biggest project of its kind undertaken at that time on the West Coast, three Foss tugs handled the delicate movement, which entailed positioning the long, steel span on two 120-foot Foss barges lashed end-to-end. The “floating” bridge was barged without incident via Deception Pass to the span’s installation site. (The initial Swinomish Channel Swinging Bridge was installed in 1891.)

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s Climate Change Initiative Impact Assessment Technical Report, Oct. 2009

  • Erosion of bridge footings: Erosion of bridge footings and supports may occur from higher tides and storm surges. Increased flooding events can cause soil saturation and surface erosion of materials around bridge footings, potentially decreasing their structural stability and increasing maintenance and operational costs (NRCNA 2008). Erosion of bridge footings can also be caused by scour from increased water flow from flooding and tidal surges, resulting in structural instability. Scour is created when sediment is washed away from the bottom of a river, leaving a hole. This generally happens at any time but is more prominent during floods and increased water flow. This is a concern, because if the rock or sediment that a bridge rests on is scoured, particularly local scour can make bridges unsafe for travel because of degradation of structural base support (Warren 1993).
  • Increased fatigue and deterioration of bridge joints: Increased temperatures create thermal expansion of bridge joints. Bridges are designed to accommodate movement from thermal expansion and contraction. However, significant temperature increases from climate change can exceed standards for the current design, causing it to reach its threshold for thermal expansion (Soo Hoo 2005). With increased and prolonged exposure to heat, parts of the bridge are heated and not allowed to further expand; creating stress to the structure that may either damage the bridge or elements that the bridge is constrained by. This will potentially increase maintenance costs and negatively affect operations.

FRA Region 8 Track Safety Specialist James Adams expresses concern about rail movement of the Swinomish Channel Bridge.

Please refer to attached email copy, which involved Rep. Jeff Morris. The email states the following:

After viewing these photos, FRA Region 8 Track Safety Specialist James Adams wrote on 2/18/14, “The West Conley rail slip joint concerns me. Paul is going to call the railroad and see if he can get the railroad to adjust it. Paul, at your earliest convenience, please conduct a thorough inspection of this line, also take a look at the rail anchor pattern approaching the bridge. It appears there may be issues regarding rail movement.”

· Photos concerning such taken are viewed at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BsQ7lMr0yBgR19pMk42ckMtUFE&usp=sharing.

If the BNSF Skagit Swinomish Swinging Bridge were to fail and cause an oil train derailment, an oil spill would impact surrounding shorelines, salmon and shellfish habitat, the fishing industry and boat tourism in La Conner and Anacortes. An oil spill expanding throughout the Fidalgo and Padilla Bays and the Salish Sea could have a devastating impact on aquatic life and the people whose livelihoods and sustenance depends on them.

Skagit County’s failure to ensure oil spill prevention would stain tourism and quality of life and livelihood..

Refer to 49 CFR 237.109 – Bridge Inspection Records, as attached.

A reasonable expectation is that the hearing examiner would examine inspection logs before coming to a conclusion regarding the adequacy of BNSF inspections and repair/replacement of the bridge. In fact, the bridge’s handling of increased oil traffic without establishing that BNSF has, in fact, has inspected the bridge and corrected deficiencies should require examination of records that become public.

Moreover, please do not overlook the threat of terrorism. Oil trains are easy targets. Ignition of an explosion or trigger of a spill could easily be manipulated.

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Anacortes Oil Train Forum: Anacortes City Hall, Wednesday, May 6, 6pm

by Tom Glade Saturday, May 2, 2015 6:59 AM

Ever since oil trains began rolling through the communities of Skagit County and Washington State over two years ago, many of you have raised the red flag.

Anacortes City Councilmembers Ryan Walter and Liz Lovelett* are hosting a public forum on oil transportation in Skagit County this coming Wednesday, May 6th. The forum will have representatives from Shell Oil, Tesoro Oil, BNSF, Skagit County, and Congressman Rick Larsen as panelists.

We are concerned that the panel will provide

*  False assurances that the decades old rail tracks and bridges are safe.

*  False assurances that the emergency response teams are adequately trained and equipped.

*  False assurances that the dangerous, unsafe DOT 111 rail cars are not being used.

This is an issue that impacts all of us. Why aren’t other interested parties invited to present? Come This Wednesday to speak up.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 6 from 6-8 pm

WHERE: Anacortes City Council Chambers, City Hall, 904 6th Street in Anacortes

WHAT: Community Meeting on Oil Transportation.

We hope you can attend this community meeting.

The community needs to hold our local elected officials and the industries that operate in our community accountable to safety, environmental protection, and our well-being.

* Please note, both council members are members of Safe Energy Leadership Alliance, are strong environmental and community advocates, have passed an oil transportation resolution, and recently advocated for the Governor’s request legislation on this issue.

Please Stand Up to Oil by attending this forum.

Cheers,

Rein Attemann

Washington Environmental Council

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Skagit County Hearing Examiner Requires Environmental Impact Study for Shell’s Crude-by-Rail Oil Rail

by Tom Glade Monday, February 23, 2015 10:39 PM

February 23, 2015

Evergreen Islands and our partners commend Mr. Wick Dufford, Skagit County’s Hearing Examiner, for having the integrity to require an Environmental Impact Statement for Shell’s Bakken oil rail terminal project – at a time when most state and local officials have averted their eyes..

The onslaught of Bakken oil trains traversing Washington State has cast a specter of disaster across our state – exposing the peoples and environments of not only Skagit County but also a significant portion of our state to the risk of huge oil spills and horrific, uncontrollable fires.

In his decision, Mr. Dufford recognizes that the enormity of the environmental impacts associated with the Bakken oil trains and specifically Shell’s Bakken oil trains exceed the “probable significant, adverse environmental impact” test required for an Environmental Impact Statement.

Media Contacts:

Tom Glade, Evergreen Islands, tom.glade@frontier.com, (360)588-8057.

DECISION:
http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/decision-hearing-examiner-blocks-shell-oil-train-project-0

***
Earthjustice: http://earthjustice.org/
Evergreen Islands: http://www.evergreenislands.org/
Forest Ethics: http://forestethics.org/
FRIENDS of the San Juans: http://www.sanjuans.org/
Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/
RE Sources for Sustainable Communities: http://www.re‐sources.org/
Washington Environmental Council: http://wecprotects.org/

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Public Hearing: Northwest Clean Air Agency

by Sandra Spargo Saturday, October 11, 2014 1:39 PM

Draft Permit for Potential Emissions of

Bakken Crude Oil Volatile Organic Compounds

Thursday, Oct. 16, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (or to when the last person speaks)

Anacortes Public Library

1220 10th Avenue, Anacortes

Shell proposed rail terminal

Proposed Shell Crude-by-Rail East Gate rail terminal area on March Point, Anacortes

Encompassed by Highway 20, Fidalgo Bay and Padilla Bay

Shell Puget Sound Refinery (PSR) must meet the requirements of over 15 permits to ensure that its proposed crude-by-rail terminal will be built.


The Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) of Mount Vernon will hold a public hearing on Oct. 16 regarding one of these permits, whose project is described as follows:

Project description:  Shell Puget Sound Refinery (PSR) proposes to construct a crude oil unloading system with the capacity to unload up to 102 railcars per day. Upon the train’s arrival at the Crude-by-Rail East Gate station, PSR would connect hoses to the bottom of each railcar, allowing crude oil to drain into a large collection pipe. PSR would pump crude oil to existing tanks. The collection pipe and railcar overhead vents are designed as a closed vapor control system.  Volatile organic compounds (ozone precursors) could total 0.9 tons a year. Potential sources of VOCs would be leaks from unloading equipment such as pumps, valves, and flanges and leaks from oily wastewater systems. (Courtesy of Protect Skagit.)

Shell Notice of Construction, G. Criteria Air Pollutant2 Emissions, Page 3, demonstrates the technicality of this proposed permit. Therefore, if you would not rather address technicalities, Protect Skagit generously wrote the following talking points for those who wish to speak at the public hearing.  A second option is to speak that you support the testimony already given. A third option is to come and occupy a seat of concern.

Northwest Clean Air Agency draft construction permit for the construction and operation of a terminal for unloading crude oil delivered by rail.

1) Since the Skagit County Planning and Development Services ruling on a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for environmental harm from this project is under appeal, why not wait to decide on this permit until after that appeal? The appeal could result in a ruling that an Environmental Impact Statement is needed for this project so why rule on this permit in advance of the MDNS hearing? NWCAA should not issue an approval for construction until the appeal has been resolved.

2) The Project summary language for the permit should specifically reference just Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, and Niobrara crude oil primarily from Colorado and Wyoming. The current language is too vague, saying the unloading facility is for receiving light crude oil which could include diluted bitumen from Canadian tar sands.

3) An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed since Bakken and Niobrara crude oil is chemically and physically different from crude oils currently being refined. There may be increases or changes in emissions, fouling of equipment, and upsets in the refining process that are currently unknown. It is too soon to tell if these problems are occurring at other refineries like Tesoro that already bring in Bakken. Therefore, an EIS must be conducted on this and all other potential cumulative impacts from the transport and refining of Bakken and Niobrara crude at the Shell refinery.

4) Governor Insleeʼs recent draft oil transportation study specifically recommends on page 67: “Modify definition of ʻfacilityʼ to include moving trains carrying oil” for purposes of oil spill prevention and response. Accordingly, the NWCAA should study rail diesel particulates and the possible release of toxic emissions from crude oil tank cars from trains traveling to and from the Shell refinery, and while idling there. The results of this study should be included in a full EIS prior to either the approval or denial of this permit to determine the full health impacts from air emissions resulting from the proposed project. The study results should also be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, WA State Dept. of Ecology, and the Governor’s office to determine whether changes to the regulations of air emissions from crude oil transport are needed.

5) The state threshold for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of 10,000 metric tons per year is exceeded by the Shell project, according to Earthjustice and others who have filed the appeal on the MDNS. The NWCAA has a responsibility to determine all GHG emissions and not issue the permit as currently drafted for construction of this facility if the GHG emissions are shown in the appeal to exceed the state threshold for GHG emissions.

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State public hearing/rail & marine oil transport-save the date!

by Sandra Spargo Sunday, September 28, 2014 3:29 PM

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According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, each unit train of 100 oil tank cars carries 2,900,000 gallons of crude oil.  Crude oil deliveries by rail do not pay into Washington State’s oil spill response fund—unlike crude oil deliveries by waterborne vessel or barge.

Washington State, a national leader in green energy, is on the verge of also becoming a major global crossroads of fossil fuel, setting up a collision of values and economics. Throughout Western Washington, waterways and railways are becoming fossil fuel corridors.

Governor Jay Inslee directed the Dept. of Ecology to draft the 2014 Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study. Ecology will release the draft on Oct. 1.

  • The purpose of the Study is to assess public health and safety, as well as environmental impacts associated with oil transport.
  • The Study must provide data and analysis of statewide risks, gaps and options for increasing public safety and improving spill prevention and response readiness.
  • The Study’s findings will direct legislative, executive and state agency actions.

More...

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Local and State Groups File Appeal on Shell Oil Transport Decision

by Tom Glade Friday, September 12, 2014 7:49 PM

Concerned citizens appeal Skagit County decision to move forward without full environmental review.

Mount Vernon, WA—Six state and local conservation groups, including RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, FRIENDS of the San Juans, ForestEthics, Washington Environmental Council, Friends of the Earth, and Evergreen Islands, represented by Earthjustice, filed an appeal yesterday of Skagit County’s decision to allow a proposed Shell Puget Sound Refinery crude-by-rail facility to move forward without requiring a full and transparent environmental review.


Shell has proposed a facility that would receive one unit train of crude oil per day, with each unit train consisting of four locomotives and approximately 102 crude oil tank cars.  Nearby refineries have built similar facilities; however, those refineries began their projects before an ongoing chain of oil train explosions revealed the extreme volatility of the Bakken crude.  The July 6, 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, one of the first disasters in the chain, killed 47 people and destroyed roughly half of the Lac-Megantic’s downtown.

“Before we allow more oil trains, we better make sure they pose no threat to our communities,” said Tom Glade with Evergreen Islands.  “Shell’s plans, especially coming after all the derailments and accidents that we’ve already seen, must undergo a thorough and public analysis to ensure our safety.”

In Skagit County, the oil trains pass right through the downtowns of Burlington, Conway, and Mount Vernon.  The oil trains also cross the old Burlington/Mount Vernon bridge spanning the Skagit River immediately above the Anacortes Water Treatment Plant and the old swing bridge spanning the Swinomish Channel directly adjacent to the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.


Extensive crude-by-rail oil transport systems have increased dramatically in recent years.   In 2008, only 9,500 tank cars transported crude nationally, as compared to over 400,000 tank cars in 2013, an increase of over 4000%.


These conservation groups are filing this appeal because of significant risks and impacts to people, water, and wildlife, and are demanding a full environmental review. They are also demanding that Shell be prevented from using any rail facility as a way to ship crude over marine waters.

“Without prohibitions on the export of crude oil from the Shell Refinery,” said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth “Increased train traffic will also result in increased tanker traffic and oil spills. This risk to Puget Sound is simply too great.”


###


Earthjustice: http://earthjustice.org/
Evergreen Islands: http://www.evergreenislands.org/
Forest Ethics:  http://forestethics.org/
FRIENDS of the San Juans: http://www.sanjuans.org/
Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/
Re Sources for Sustainable Community: http://www.re-sources.org/
Washington Environmental Council: http://wecprotects.org/

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Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility Shoreline Variance/ Substantial Development Permit (File #13-0468)

by Tom Glade Tuesday, March 25, 2014 8:18 PM

EVERGREEN ISLANDS

February 15, 2014

To: Leah Forbes, AICP

Senior Planner, Skagit County Planning & Development Services

cc: Evergreen Islands Board of Trustees

Re: Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility

Shoreline Variance/ Substantial Development Permit (File #13-0468)

Dear Ms. Forbes:

On the behalf of Evergreen Islands, I am submitting this comment letter regarding the permitting of Shell Oil Products Proposed Crude by Rail Unloading Facility.

In large part, this letter is a pictorial essay about our concerns that the proposed Shell Oil Products railroad terminal, which will facilitate refining crude oil delivered in tank cars, will likely have a probable significant adverse environmental impacts on the Skagit County’s irreplaceable and invaluable environment. A summary of our salient points are included in a summary at the end of our letter.

While the Shell proposal has the potential for global environmental impacts, this brief letter focuses on the probable significant adverse environmental impacts involving our (Skagit County’s) local environment. This letter addresses the potential adverse impacts on the following elements of our environment (see Figure 1):

· Padilla Bay

· The March Point Heronry

· The City of Burlington

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