Crude Oil Transport and Storage in Washington State

The transport of crude by rail through communities and near waterways poses significant risks to the public. These concerns have been raised in many forums. We describe a critical concern: proposed crude oil tank farms that by design would be sited within the population centers of Hoquiam/Aberdeen and Vancouver, creating permanent, indeterminate risk from combustion and fires. There is also the risk of spillage, accident and fire with any train-to-tank transfer, which could occur at any of the locations within the city. 

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility opposes the siting of crude oil tanks and terminals within population centers. Further, we call upon the Washington Department of Ecology and Governor Inslee to deny permits for the proposed terminals on the basis of serious, credible threats to the health and safety of residents of Washington communities. 

We also call upon the WA Department of Health to study the potential health and safety issues related to crude oil storage within and shipment from communities. This seems especially important since local health departments have generally not filled this role to date. 


Learn more about this critically important issue by reviewing our position statement on crude oil transport and storage (2015), and our Policy Position Opposing the Siting of Crude Oil Terminals within Population Centers (2014).


Current Crude Oil Projects 

Contanda Terminal Proposed in Grays Harbor, WA

In January 2017, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA)'s strict permitting requirements apply to crude oil shipping terminals. This effectively blocked Contanda (formerly Westway)'s proposed crude-by-rail terminal in Hoquiam, WA. However, Contanda is now considering other materials they can ship while abiding by ORMA's restrictions. Though the company will most likely not be shipping crude oil (a major win for the health and safety of those in Grays Harbor County), there are still many health-hazardous options on the table. Learn more about the project here.

 

Tesoro-Savage Terminal Proposed in Vancouver, WA

The proposed largest crude oil handling facility in North America could receive 360,000 barrels (over 15 million gallons) of crude oil daily. Oil train terminals are major sources of toxic air pollution, and Tesoro would release incredible amounts of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants linked to increased cancer rates. This terminal would endanger our health, the safety of our communities, and the waterways nearby. We can’t afford a derailment, spill, or increase in air pollution. Learn more about the project here.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is responsible for analyzing the proposed Tesoro Savage Oil Train Terminal and giving Gov. Inslee their recommendation on whether to approve/deny the project. We can expect a decision by Fall 2017. 

 

For more information:

WPSR is a member of the Stand Up to Oil coalition, a growing number of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, who work to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region. You can learn more about the proposed oil infrastructure in the Northwest on the Stand Up to Oil website, or by viewing our resources below: 

 

WPSR and Oregon PSR reviewed the DEIS for Tesoro Savage. We detailed the major health and safety risks of these projects in this fact sheet.

 

WPSR's analysis of the DEIS and review of the health impacts of the Imperium and Westway (Contanda) oil terminals in Grays Harbor, WA.

A group of nurses in WA assessed the potential health, environmental and economic impacts of this project. Their poster is available for online viewing.