Over 120 attended the first of two public meetings last night to begin to shape Environmental Impact Statements being prepared for two companies that seek to export crude oil from Grays Harbor ports. Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp was one of the first to provide comment. “Quinault opposes oil in Grays Harbor. Fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants in Grays Harbor are central to the lives and culture of Quinault people. We oppose the sacrifice of our lives and culture for a few jobs.”
Government and business leaders politely waited alongside concerned citizens from throughout the county, as they filed into a chair at the front of the Commons area at Hoquiam High School and gave their 2 minute statements. Retired teacher Wes Brosnan noted “This track is in such terrible condition that it could be sabotaged by a clever 12 year old.”
Concerns ranged from catastrophic failure of the cars, or rail system, to increased overall traffic and emergency responses. Hoquiam business owner Garret Phillips added “I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of the proposed crude oil trains on traffic congestion in every community along the rail corridor, and the associated impacts to our economy, our health, and our public services.”
So where do the comments go from there? Brendan McFarland with the Department of Ecology says “We take the comments and start studying them, the next public phase is when we put out a draft Environmental Impact Statement and the public gets a chance to comment on that.
From there the Department of Ecology will make separate determinations on whether to permit the new, or increased petroleum exports at two sites in Hoquiam.
The second, and final scoping meeting for this phase will be held April 29th in Centralia High School Commons, 813 Eshom Road. You can submit your comments without getting in front of a big crowd, either online or by mail, for details visit http://ecy.wa.gov
Public comment is open through May 27th to determine what should be studied in Impact Statements being prepared for Westway Terminal Company and Imperium Renewables in Hoquiam. Though the proposals are separate, the agencies are holding a joint scoping comment period. All comments received will be considered for both proposals.