Columbia River Coal Export Terminal Would Have ‘Huge Impacts’ - Global Trade Magazine
  May 4th, 2016 | Written by

Columbia River Coal Export Terminal Would Have ‘Huge Impacts’

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  • Proposed coal export terminal in Washington State would be largest in North America.
  • Greenhouse emissions from proposed coal export terminal in Washington State equivalent to five coal-fired power plants.
  • “Hours and hours” of traffic delays from coal trains, says Washington State report on proposed coal export terminal.

The Washington Department of Ecology recently released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Millennium Bulk Terminal’s proposed coal export terminal along the Columbia River.  The report comes after the agency received over 165,000 public comments calling for a broad review of the proposed coal export terminal.

If built, the Longview terminal would export up to 44 million tons of coal each year to Asia and would be the biggest coal export terminal in North America.

“The review’s findings confirm what the public has said for over six years: This project has significant, unavoidable impacts–from greenhouse gas emissions to traffic delays,” stated Jan Hasselman, attorney for the Power Past Coal Coalition. “The Department of Ecology acknowledges that moving over 44 million tons of coal in uncovered trains and stockpiling it along the Columbia would harm people’s health and the river. The bad news is the review falls short, relying on unproven mitigation. Now is the public’s chance to weigh-in to say no to coal export in Washington.”

“The report paints a bleak picture for people who live near the coal terminal,” said Roy Staples, Longview resident with Landowners & Citizens for a Safe Community.  “It confirms what we know from coal export sites around the world. They’re dirty. Coal dust hangs in the air and coating homes. The path forward is clear: Uncovered coal trains and stockpiles have no place in Longview, along the Columbia, or on the exposed BNSF railroad adjacent to traffic on both sides of Interstate-5.”

In the report, the Department of Ecology noted that the greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed terminal could be the equivalent of five coal-fired power plants.

“We are already seeing industries critical to our economy being hit hard by climate impacts and we are moving off of coal-fired power in Washington, said Beth Doglio of Power Past Coal coalition. “We can do better than coal exports.”

While the report acknowledges the problem with coal dust, it does not address how to solve or mitigate the health problem. “Residents who live along the main line could experience nuisance levels [of coal dust] which may visible soiling on window sills, outdoor furniture, and other property,” the DEIS states.

The review stops short of looking at the impacts to communities outside of Washington State’s borders, despite the fact that communities along the rail-line and close to the strip mines would see impacts.

Interests from nearby states objected to the generation coal rail traffic through their states.

Of the seven proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest, two remain on the table in Washington: Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview and Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, outside of Bellingham.

The release of the DEIS starts the 45-day public comment period ending June 13 during which anyone can comment on the draft substance.   There are three public hearings scheduled in Longview in late May and early June.

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