June 7 Last Comments on Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal


The Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) has notified the public of a comment period and hearing on its preliminary determination to approve air pollution permit application materials for the Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal Facility proposed by Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies at the Port of Vancouver, Washington [1].  The Notice of Construction Air Permit provides coverage for industrial activities, a Technical Support Document summarizes the permit conditions, and a Test Protocol for the Direct Measurement of Uncollected Volatile Organic Compound Loading Losses during Marine Vessel Loading describes resulting air pollution.

The Tesoro Savage joint venture, Vancouver Energy (5501 NW Old Lower River Road, Vancouver, Washington), plans to develop a new, 360,000-barrel-per-day, oil-by-rail terminal, to receive Alberta tar sands and Bakken crude oil from Northwest trains, store it onsite, and load it onto marine vessels [2].  On land leased from the port, and on behalf of the joint venture, Savage would oversee and manage the design, construction, and operation of the facility requiring an approximate investment of $75 to $100 million.  The originally stated, principal purpose of the facilities was to offset or replace declining Alaska North Slope and California crude production and more expensive, foreign oil imports with delivery of other North American crude to U.S. West Coast refineries.  But with federal law currently allowing export to other countries of crude oil extracted in the United States, the Tesoro Savage oil terminal could primarily serve as an export facility on the Columbia River.

Comments, Hearing, & Rally

By Wednesday, June 7, and beyond, please offer written comments on these draft permit documents, to the State of Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, in person at1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive SW, Olympia, Washington, by mail to P.O. Box 43172, Olympia, WA 98504-3172, or electronically online through the EFSEC website [1].  Before making a final determination on construction permit issuance, EFSEC will hold a public meeting to accept and consider oral and written comments on June 7, from 1 until 9 pm or the last speaker, whichever comes first, in Gaiser Hall on the Clark College central campus, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver.  For further EFSEC information, please contact siting manager Sonia E. Bumpus at 360-664-1363 or sbumpus@utc.wa.gov.

Besides packing the June 7, air pollution permit hearing, the Northwest community and coalition groups, including Stand Up to Oil, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and Sierra Club, are staging a rally with hundreds of participants, during the 4 to 5 pm, hearing break [3, 4].  If you live in the Vancouver area, we encourage you to attend the hearing and join the rally, by coming early and staying late, wearing your favorite, red shirt, and preparing, practicing, timing, and reading your testimony under two minutes long.  Begin your remarks by saying your name and address, and express how the Tesoro Savage oil terminal could affect you and your family.  Even if you do not intend to publicly talk, showing up as part of the Northwest fossil fuels resistance makes opposition visible!  Please sign up and give your speaking ticket to coalition staff members, to share with late arrivals.

At this major hearing on the Tesoro Savage project, the voting members of Washington EFSEC will have their last opportunities to see and hear from affected, regional, rail-line communities, before making a final recommendation to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on denial, conditional approval, or approval of the largest, proposed, oil train terminal in North America.  Organizers believe that Governor Inslee will reject the project, unless he gets conflicting advice from EFSEC or his staff.  But his final decision, expected this year, must wait until all permit processes are complete, thus the voices of resistance must remain powerful.

Suggested Comment Points

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is grateful for the thousands of Vancouver area activists who have worked to stop Tesoro Savage’s dangerous, oil train terminal and reckless oil trains throughout a remarkable, four-year campaign.  In addition to comment suggestions offered by regional environmental advocates, we hope that you will also integrate into your input the following points gleaned from a variety of sources, and use your comment as the basis for composing a letter to newspaper editors and oral testimony at the June 7, EFSEC hearing [3, 4].

Convince EFSEC to protect, not sacrifice, the health, safety, economy, stable climate, and nearby waterways of Vancouver community residents, schoolchildren, and businesses from this massive oil-by-rail scheme.  The terminal would handle 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and its air pollution permit would authorize release of toxins into the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Tesoro Savage is trying to downplay the impacts of oil train terminals as major sources of smog-forming volatile organic compounds, diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants linked to increased cancer rates.  The project also risks oil train derailments, spills, fires, and explosions along the entire Northwest rail route, like the June 2016 disaster in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

This Tesoro Savage air pollution permit application may deliberately obscure industry intentions to construct a rail terminal to export both Bakken crude and tar sands diluted bitumen (dilbit).  Its incorrect emissions calculations fail to recognize and account for the toxic ingredients in diluent combined with bitumen from Canadian tar sands.  The typical such diluent, sour natural gas condensate, contains benzene concentrations not referenced or included in the technical data report numbers.  Overall, these application documents underestimate the emissions contributions of diluent, or they do not mention requirements for maximum limits of hazardous crude components, such as benzene, hexane, and hydrogen sulfide present in higher concentrations in dilbit than in Bakken oil.

Unless diluent chemicals are accurately considered in the mix of emissions associated with these oil storage and marine ship loading facilities and miscellaneous equipment leaks, air pollution released from the Tesoro Savage terminal could exceed the allowable, legal limits of exposure for workers and surrounding businesses, on a colossal scale.  Permit conditions should require installation of sensors and sirens in nearby, closed, work places, such as the Clark County Jail Work Center, the Clark Public Utilities generating plant, and elsewhere.  These discrepancies indicate that compliance with air emissions standards should insist on revised calculations or rejection of the air quality permit.

With your last chance to tell Governor Inslee and Washington EFSEC decision makers to deny the unnecessary, Tesoro Savage oil terminal and its permits, send a clear message that we together do not want local and regional, foul-smelling, hazardous pollution emanating from terminals and trains.  Opposing experts assessing and estimating potential Tesoro Savage terminal impacts have researched and learned from the experiences of other communities near oil-by-rail facilities.  Their conclusions, compiled in technical comments on the air pollution permit, affirm other analyses that expose the routine, daily harm that Vancouver terminal vapors could cause to nearby residents, especially in the Fruit Valley neighborhood only two-thirds of a mile away from the proposed oil tank farm.

As Don and Alona Steinke note in the following examples, oil companies like Tesoro and Savage have extensive records of violating permits, and state and federal agencies can be slow and difficult at enforcing the law.  A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) webpage reveals that the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, significantly violated the Clean Air Act for 12 consecutive quarters in 2013, 2014 and 2015 [5].  For at least three years, while the EPA built a case against Tesoro, the refinery exposed the people of Anacortes to life-degrading air pollution, until Tesoro ultimately settled for $425 million to fix its facility problems and pay a fine [6].

At Saint John, New Brunswick, Irving Oil built a crude-by-rail transloading terminal in 2012.  Records reviewed by Reuters show that the pollution control equipment at the terminal was not operating 37 percent of the time, between December 2012 and March 2015, due to nearly constant mechanical problems [7].  Adjacent residents attempted to relocate, but could not find buyers for their houses.  Closer to the proposed Vancouver Energy terminal, two re-refineries next to Portland, Oregon, have made the air intolerable for Hayden Island residents for 15 years, while the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) took action.  Asserting that, “Citizens deserve the scientific facts, not self-reported guesstimates based on old modeling,” these residents are asking DEQ to classify those re-refineries as Title V polluters, and to require full-time, full-spectrum, stack monitors.

Commenters to EFSEC can similarly invite neighbors and elected officials to challenge the flawed methodology of the Tesoro Savage air pollution permit.  Washington EFSEC should not issue to Tesoro Savage its requested Notice of Construction Air Permit, based on the current state of its application and accompanying documents.

[1] Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project Notice of Construction Air Permit Application, Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council

[2] Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project, Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council

[3] Deny Tesoro Savage Air Permit, Columbia Riverkeeper

[4] Join Us for the Last Major Oil Train Hearing in Vancouver! Stand Up to Oil

[5] TRI Facility Report: Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

[6] Air Pollution Settlement Reached for Six Refineries, July 18, 2016 Columbian

[7] Irving Oil Has Struggled to Control Air Pollution, November 12, 2015 Bangor Daily News

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