Tethys Bottling Plant: Anacortes Proposes UGA Expansion - Part 3

by Tom Glade Thursday, August 16, 2012 5:32 PM

This post is the third installment of a series on the City of Anacortes’s problematic application to expand its urban growth area (UGA).  This e-mail continues the illustration of the significant disparity between the proposed UGA site and the site that the bottling plant actually requires.

Finding a Site for the Tethys Bottling Plant

On July 31, the City of Anacortes submitted an application (the Application) to amend the Skagit County comprehensive plan to change the Anacortes urban growth area boundary.  In the application, the City proposes an amendment to the Anacortes Comprehensive Plan that would add 11.15 acres to the Anacortes UGA (see map below).  As proposed, this rezoned land would serve as the site for the Tethys bottling plant facility (Tethys has a contract with the City for 5 million gallons of water a day (mgd) from the Skagit River.)

The Site Plan Hides The Enormity of This Bottling Plant Facility

The following picture is the plant site layout that was included in the City’s application.  However the site layout shows only the bottling plant, and hides the size of the rail yard that is required to handle the 1-1/2 mile long “unit trains.”


Now Consider the Size of Tesoro’s Rail Yard for Its Unit-Trains

The SEPA Checklist for Tesoro’s unit-train rail yard included the following information:

The proposed Unloading Facility and associated structures will be approximately 18.6 acres (1,600 x 110 feet) and will consist of the following elements:

  • 4 railway tracks, about 4,100 feet in total length, located parallel to the existing railroad corridor.
  • Tie-up tracks will be constructed along the tracks and will be long enough to store four 6-axle locomotives.

The following picture illustrates the length of the land that is required for a unit-train rail yard (the railway tracks are the yellow lines).


The Destruction of Turners Bay

The Tethys plant layout does reveal that the bottling plant’s rail yard extends well beyond the combined UGA and into Culbertson’s Rural Marine Industrial zone.  The 1,600 feet (1/3 mile) length required may even extend into the surrounding Rural Reserve Zone.

As the following picture illustrates, the plant layout does reveal that the rail yard extends well into the marsh and lagoon complex at the head of Turners Bay (red dashed lines).


The following picture is a picture of the extensive marsh and lagoon complex at the head of Turners Bay.


In 2009, a $671,000 grant was spent to restore the Turners Bay lagoon by removing the segment of Similk Bay road that isolated it from Similk Bay.  The Salmon Recovery Funding Board’s grant description is as follows:

Skagit River System Cooperative: Removing Turners Bay Road to Improve Salmon Habitat ($671,073)

The Skagit River System Cooperative will use this grant to increase fish access to an isolated marsh and lagoon complex. Crews will remove part of Similk Bay Road, along with creosote-treated debris from a previous log storage operation and dredge spoils. They also will replace undersized culverts, control invasive Spartina and replant the area. Currently, upper portions of the salt marsh receive muted tidal flows and fish access is severely limited by part of Similk Bay Road and a non-functioning tide gate. Once the work is completed, Chinook salmon will have access to a nearly 60-acre lagoon and marsh complex. The work also will fix problems that prevented the lagoon from maintaining itself naturally. The Skagit River System Cooperative will contribute $128,689 from a state grant. (09-1441)

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