Crude Oil Transport and Storage in Washington State

As we work to transition to clean energy sources, we are resisting new fossil fuel infrastructure - which would slow the transition and would further pollute our climate. Recognizing that we already have significant amounts of oil coming through our state - by rail, pipeline, and waterway, we also advocate for policies to make the movement of oil safer.

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. As an active member of the Stand Up to Oil Coalition, we've been a part of the movement to defeat proposed oil terminals and pass policies that protect our communities from the risk of oil spills. In 2018, we advocated for and celebrated the passage of a bill that addressed significant funding gaps and reduced risk of oil spills from trains, vessels, and pipelines - the Oil Spill Prevention Act. In the spring of 2018, we also celebrated the denial of the Tesoro Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, WA. 

Washington is seeing oil transport evolve. As health professionals, we know that our communities are threatened by projects that increase the volume of oil moving through out state. 


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).


Defeated Crude Oil Projects 

Grays Harbor, WA

The fight against crude oil in Grays Harbor began over four years ago, the community faced three large crude oil terminal proposals - which collectively would have resulted in (x# gallons of crude stored in Grays Harbor and/or #x of oil trains/day). After years of community efforts, in 2017 we celebrated the defeat of all three projects, alongside our partners in the Stand Up to Oil coalition and Grays Harbor activists.

We have celebrated a number of other wins along the way. 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. Learn more about the history of these proposed projects here. Learn more about the project here.

 

Tesoro-Savage Terminal Proposed in Vancouver, WA

In March, 2018, Vancouver Energy canceled its lease with the Port of Vancouver. The decision marked the decisive end and victory in a community campaign that lasted over five years to stop what would have been the largest oil terminal in North America. It would have received 360,000 barrels (over 15 million gallons) of crude oil, carried by four mile-long oil trains, daily. Oil train terminals are major sources of toxic air pollution, and the Vancouver Energy (formerly Tesoro-Savage) facility would have released incredible amounts of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants linked to increased cancer rates.

We joined our partners in the Stand Up to Oil coalition to fight this project tooth and nail. WPSR member spoke at hearings and rallies across the state, sent hundreds of comments, wrote op-eds, and researched the health consequences of this project. We celebrated a series of victories in the winter of 2017, including the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council’s unanimous recommendation that Governor Inslee deny the project, and Inslee’s subsequent denial in January. Read more about this movement here.

 

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.