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SEATTLE – State officials said Wednesday they are revoking permits for two planned oil train terminals in southwest Washington after deciding the projects should face more environmental scrutiny.
The state Shorelines Hearings Board issued a letter Wednesday indicating it will invalidate permits for Westway Terminal Co. and Imperium Terminal Services, which want to build oil shipping terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor that could store up to 1.5 million barrels of crude, primarily from North Dakota.
The city of Hoquiam issued the permits last spring, after determining in conjunction with the state Ecology Department that the proposals posed minimal threat to the environment. The letter called that determination “clearly erroneous,” noting that the city and state officials failed to consider the cumulative environmental impacts of having the two terminals running along with a third terminal planned nearby.
The board also noted the effects of increased train and vessel traffic need to be considered, as does the damage that could be posed by an oil spill or an earthquake.
The projects are among several “crude by rail” terminals being planned or built in Washington to handle a boom in oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. The oil would arrive by train and be shipped out by barge or tanker to refineries on Puget Sound and the California coast.
Rail proponents have argued that shipping oil by train is exceptionally safe, though in Quebec in July an unattended train rolled away and derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic near the Maine border, triggering explosions, the destruction of the town’s center and the deaths of 47 people.