“Friends and Neighbors”?Permalink +
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 12:59 pm // Terry Wechsler
In their November 29, 2012, comment on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), the Northern Whatcom County Small City Caucus (mayors of Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack, and Sumas) explained why they support GPT:
“The existing Cherry Point industries have been increasingly good neighbors and corporate citizens over time, but their future viability cannot be assumed or taken for granted. The permitting agencies should recognize the importance of new and diversified job growth within the Cherry Point heavy industrial area as essential to a healthy and sustainable regional economy.”
My first article for NWC noted there has never been an environmental assessment to determine how “appropriate” industrial activity at Cherry Point actually is. As we await the EIS for GPT, it is time to assess our Whatcom County industrial “good neighbors and corporate citizens” with a more critical eye, and consider how they operate and have in the past, since that informs how we can expect them and their corporate brethren in Whatcom County to behave in the future.
This information is incomplete. Data about toxic sites awaiting cleanup is derived from the Washington Dep’t of Ecology’s Hazardous Sites List. Ecology ranks sites 1 to 5, with those with a 1 ranking being the worst sites. For perspective, the GP waterfront site has a rank of 2.
Alcoa Intalco Works:
- Largest stationary source of carbon monoxide in the area, emitting as much CO as all cars in the county, according to the NW Clean Air Agency. Also significant emitter of SO2, NO2, PM10, and PM2.5. (Note: technology could reduce.)
- Largest single electricity consumer in the Northwest.
- Leading regional source of workplace asbestos exposure according to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
- Two toxic sites in the county (Rank 4 in Acme; rank 5 in Bellingham) awaiting cleanup.
- As of February 2014, 17 total hazardous sites state-wide, of which 3 are ranked 1 (in Auburn, Shelton, and Kelso).
- Rail industry as a whole refuses to voluntarily monitor worker health and medications taken to routinely assess operator impairment.
BP Cherry Point:
- 1995-2005, BP US led nation in refinery deaths, with 10 times Exxon’s.
- 2010: BP Cherry Point cited for 13 “serious safety violations,” fined $69,200. No appeal.
- 2012: Refinery fire; six violations cited by WA Dep’t Labor & Industries (L&I), including one willful violation of workplace safety and health rules, $81,500 fine. BP is appealing.
- Whatcom County PDS No. SEP2012-00059; mitigated determination of nonsignificance (MDNS) dated October 18, 2012, and permit granted for a rail logistics project to receive up to one train per day of crude from the North Dakota Bakken shale beds. Request for reconsideration based on new information of extreme hazards associated with crude by rail denied. Currently does not report how many trains it actually receives.
Chevron LPG, Ferndale:
- Petrogas Energy Corp. of Calgary announced acquisition of the facility, which stores and distributes bulk shipments of propane, butane and iso-butane (collectively "LPG"), on March 4, 2014. The facility almost exclusively exports to foreign markets, according to industry analyst RBN Energy.
- Petrogas has not announced if it plans to expand storage capacity (currently 750 MBbl) or rail infrastructure (2 rail sidings), and officials decline to be interviewed. The facility previously averaged 4-5000 bpd (2-3 vessels/annum), but the announcement noted the facility’s 30,000 bpd capacity.
- Transport is dangerous. The most recent FRA advisory about rail transport was issued in 2012; tankers require 500-foot “security zones,” or buffers between them and other vessels. The facility shares Alcoa’s pier.
- Derailments can result in explosions and fires, posing particular problems when LPG cars are combined with crude for rail shipment as occurs now.
Phillips 66 (ConocoPhillips) Ferndale Refinery:
- Persists in using hydrofluoric acid, an acute poison, to boost octane rates in spite of the extreme danger associated with a spill and availability of safer alternative chemicals. Refuses to disclose how this hazardous material is transported to the refinery (vessel, rail, or truck), in spite of the fact that “it’s some of the worst stuff in the spill-response world,” according to Mark MacIntyre, spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle.
- 2005-11, fined over $200,000 for emission violations by Northwest Clean Air Administration.
- Fined $6,300 by L&I for 2010 fire caused by improper maintenance.
- Whatcom County PDS No. SEP2013-00005; MDNS dated April 29, 2013, and permit granted for a rail logistics project to receive up to one train every other day of crude from the North Dakota Bakken shale beds. Request for reconsideration based on new information of extreme hazards associated with crude by rail denied. Rail infrastructure not yet complete; has not agreed to report how many trains will be received once in operation.
TreOil Industries Limited:
- Ranked equivalent to GP waterfront on WA Dep’t of Ecology’s list of hazardous sites in Whatcom County awaiting cleanup.
- Contaminants are leaching into groundwater and later discharged into Puget Sound according to WA Dep’t of Natural Resources’ Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Plan.
Other: Ecology lists 27 hazardous sites awaiting cleanup in Whatcom County:
- Rank 1: Chris V8 in Custer;
- Rank 2: 5 sites including GP Bellingham waterfront;
- Rank 3: 9 sites;
- Rank 4: 3 sites; and
- Rank 5: 9 sites.
The Small City Mayors’ assertion that growth and diversification within the Cherry Point industrial area are essential to a healthy and sustainable economy is conclusory and requires adequate study of risks posed. Some of those risks were described by the Seattle Times in its front page Easter 2014 article addressing state-wide implications of combined rail and vessel impacts of the now over 20 fossil fuel transportation proposals in the region.
At the county level, it is time to address the cumulative impacts of industrial activity at Cherry Point and elsewhere, and we have 27 reasons to demand such an analysis before any permitting decisions are made that would add to or increase industrial activity. With rumors swirling of possible fracking operations in the Bellingham Basin, it is time to stop doing the easy thing – talking about jobs – and address how we sustainably move into a future that leaves our kids not merely with jobs to go to, but water to drink, fish to eat….
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 12:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
2 comments; last on Apr 22, 2014
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2014
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 9:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 4:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 7:26 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.
11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 5:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 6:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines who is donating to which candidates
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 7:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley whole-heartedly urges Doug Ericksen to run for Congress in 2014
2 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 11:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?
4 comments; last on Sep 10, 2013
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 10:25 am // John ServaisThe explosion of hate and racist rhetoric is the saddest aspect of the verdict. The evidence was complicated and the verdict difficult to make.
2 comments; last on Jul 16, 2013
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 8:29 am // John ServaisRiley Sweeney has a short but important expose over at the Political Junkie today.
1 comments; last on Jul 12, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 4:43 pm // John ServaisLuba Pekisheva has been given a confusing run around in our Whatcom County courts for over three years. Judges, prosecutors and clerks have all participated.
Thu, May 30, 2013, 11:01 pm // Guest writerJeffrey Margolis urges us to request the Nooksack South Fork Valley be included in the Coal Port environmental study.
3 comments; last on Jun 02, 2013
Fri, May 24, 2013, 12:18 am // Guest writerMarian Beddill provides a general guide for the public, with a look at the history of water rights in Washington state.
4 comments; last on May 26, 2013
Wed, May 22, 2013, 10:12 am // Guest writerBy Guest Writer Nicole Brown. This is a call to action for county citizens as the county tries to ram through the slaughterhouse rezones.
7 comments; last on May 26, 2013
Fri, May 17, 2013, 4:44 pm // John ServaisTuesday morning and nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. Nor online. We provide the basics to fill in this latest omission by our "daily" newspaper.
9 comments; last on May 23, 2013
Mon, Apr 22, 2013, 5:52 am // Riley SweeneyRiley attends Tea Party training and runs afoul of Rep. Overstreet
1 comments; last on Apr 22, 2013
Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 6:37 am // Guest writerGuest writer Shane Roth writes in favor of the reconveyance of Lake Whatcom land back to the county.
1 comments; last on Mar 11, 2013
Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 6:39 am // Riley SweeneyRiley details upcoming merger between PeaceHealth and a much more conservative entity
1 comments; last on Feb 26, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 12:09 am // Wendy HarrisThe planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices
2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 1:52 am // Wendy HarrisImproving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.
1 comments; last on Jan 28, 2013
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 6:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 1:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Sun, Jan 06, 2013, 11:49 pm // Wendy HarrisWatch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom
1 comments; last on Jul 27, 2013
Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 11:37 pm // Wendy HarrisCouncil majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights
2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 11:12 am // John ServaisA dramatic video of yet another mudslide near Everett - and what will be coming down on coal trains. Amtrak service to Bellingham is shut down.
4 comments; last on Dec 20, 2012
Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 1:43 pm // John ServaisA giant coal freighter went right through the long dock early Friday morning. Nothing in print edition of Herald
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2012
Mon, Dec 03, 2012, 3:26 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein citizens must hold their representatives' feet to the fire
6 comments; last on Dec 09, 2012
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 9:53 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines why the new jail site was selected without public input
1 comments; last on Nov 12, 2012
Sat, Nov 03, 2012, 1:21 pm // Tip JohnsonAn letter to the County Council on opening the county to the slaughter industry
8 comments; last on Nov 08, 2012
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 7:29 am // Riley SweeneyHere's your shot at fame and glory as a political pundit
4 comments; last on Nov 02, 2012
Tue, Oct 02, 2012, 8:22 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines Rep. Vincent Buys' legislative record
1 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 8:53 am // John ServaisBellingham Business Journal breaking story - Lummi's to hold meeting today at noon to speak against the Cherry Point project.
7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 11:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley patiently explains to the Whatcom Excavator what a flowchart should look like
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 6:24 pm // Guest writerDavid Maas, a retired college prof, asks why the city of Bellingham is supposedly powerless to stop the development of a private project that will reshape our community?
5 comments; last on Aug 26, 2012
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 8:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 8:30 pm // Larry HorowitzQuestions raised by the Superior Court's barring of the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights initiative from being placed on the ballot.
21 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 4:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley gathers quotes, video footage and pictures from the recent tea party forum
1 comments; last on Jul 20, 2012
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 8:45 am // Larry HorowitzWanted: Someone to interpret chamber president Oplinger's remarks
13 comments; last on Jul 13, 2012
Wed, Jul 04, 2012, 10:42 am // Riley SweeneyRiley interviews judicial candidates, reviews campaign tactics, and discusses fireworks
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 8:52 am // Paul deArmondPort Commissioner Scott Walker and attorney Frank Chmelik get caught ballot-rigging again
20 comments; last on Jun 21, 2012
Fri, May 18, 2012, 10:27 am // Riley SweeneyA short plea for public involvement from Riley
Sat, Apr 28, 2012, 9:09 am // John ServaisA county wide initiative will allow voters to decide whether to expand the Port of Bellingham commission from 3 to 5 commissioners.
1 comments; last on Apr 28, 2012
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 11:07 am // Riley SweeneyRiley attended the Whatcom GOP Convention and reports back
1 comments; last on Apr 29, 2012
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 12:02 am // Guest writerDevelopers are gaming the system with help from the county government - and big changes are made in multiple small changes.
1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2012
Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 7:52 pm // John ServaisAn illegal serial Port Commission meeting should be investigated by the State Auditor, and two commissioners should be made accountable for their actions.
5 comments; last on Apr 11, 2012
Fri, Apr 06, 2012, 7:16 am // Guest writerKen Mann writes a guest article of his personal support for the Padden Trails development inside the Bellingham city limits.
3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2012
Wed, Apr 04, 2012, 2:16 pm // John ServaisState law allows us to pass an initiative and increase the number of port commissioners from three to five. Thanks to Harriet Spanel.
4 comments; last on Apr 05, 2012
Mon, Apr 02, 2012, 11:43 am // Larry HorowitzWhere to begin? Misinformation. Disinformation. Truths. Myths. Same old, same old. Paradigm shift. GMA. OFM. Growth pressures. Population loss. Growth subsidies. Proportionate share.
36 comments; last on Apr 11, 2012
Fri, Mar 09, 2012, 11:15 am // Riley SweeneyRiley gets to the bottom of this in a NWCitizen Exclusive
4 comments; last on Apr 01, 2012
Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 3:03 pm // Guest writerNo EIS - no real county planning concern about developing Squalicum Mountain and degrading Lake Whatcom water even further.
Tue, Jan 31, 2012, 8:36 am // Paul deArmondPort Commissioner Scott Walker and attorney Frank Chmelik get caught ballot-rigging again
Mon, Jan 30, 2012, 11:58 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley updates us on the latest facts coming to light about City of Bellingham employee moonlighting
2 comments; last on Feb 01, 2012
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