BHP Billiton Details Potential Potash Export Facility at Open House

BHP Billiton hosted an open house last week to detail a proposed potassium chloride export facility at Terminal 3, near Bowerman Airfield. About 100 people attended the meeting Thursday night at the Hoquiam High School across from the proposed site.

Manager of Community Development at BHP, Ken Smith said they are researching two possible export facilities for potash imported from the Jansen Potash Project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Smith said at full capacity, the company would bring large amounts of train and ship traffic to West Hoquiam.

Smith also spoke to the commissioners at the Port of Grays Harbor last week, he said that “At 8-million tons per annum, we do anticipate upwards of 8 to 10 trains per week. And then in terms of the vessels and the additional ship traffic, we anticipate three to four additional ships per week to and from the Port of Grays Harbor.”

Kevin Haugh with Puget Sound and Pacific said that would triple current traffic. “Of course it depends on the season but you’re probably seeing three to four, possibly five trains per week.” He said the goal is a straight path for the trains from Centralia to Hoquiam.

Haugh said infrastructure upgrades would track with demand for the local rails, “First and foremost is the safety of the community, the safety of our employees and of the environment.”

As far as the vehicle traffic affected by the trains, Haugh anticipated that the increased traffic would prompt a quicker solution in front of the Gateway Plaza. He said that PS&P has been working with the Council of Governments on the East Aberdeen Mobility project.

Environment

Comprehensive environmental studies are in progress to evaluate existing environmental
conditions, avoid or minimize impacts, and identify mitigation actions to offset potential impacts.

Air

Emissions during construction will consist of dust, automobile, rail, and vessel. A construction permit from Olympic Region Clean Air Agency will be required. Operations are anticipated to be classified as a “minor source” and will not require an air discharge permit.

Wildlife

Potential impacts to wildlife, including endangered species, in the project area were evaluated in a biological assessment. Minimization/avoidance measures in the design include complying with in-water work periods; monitoring and controlling pile driving noise; using grating on overwater walkways; and minimizing the benthic footprint of the shiploader and berth structures.

Water Quality

Water quality impacts are expected to be temporary and be limited to localized turbidity increases during in-water activities such as pile driving and dredging to construct the ship loader and berth. Turbidity will be monitored during in-water construction activities for compliance with Washington water quality criteria.

Habitat

A baseline habitat, wetlands, and shoreline assessment was completed to identify existing site conditions. Where wetland impacts cannot be avoided, planning and design to create new wetlands or enhance existing wetlands for mitigation is in progress.

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