Position Statement on Crude Oil Transport & Storage

To Governors of Washington & Oregon

From Concerned Washington & Oregon Health Care Professionals:

Energy companies have proposed increases in oil-by-rail transport and storage in the states of Washington and Oregon with subsequent ocean shipments from Pacific Northwest ports. While there was no movement of oil-by-rail in Washington three years ago, dramatic increases in oil extraction from the Bakken fields in North Dakota and Montana and from Canadian oil/tar sands have occurred with significant increases in oil-by-rail traffic. If current proposals are allowed to proceed, the volume of oil-by-rail coming into Washington would increase from the current 19 trains per week to as many as 137 trains per week, each about 1.5 miles long. Each would carry approximately 2.9 million gallons of volatile crude to be stored, in some cases refined, and then exported to other states. This is a larger daily volume than would flow through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Trains also carry Bakken oil through Oregon to California, and barges carry it from Oregon ports on the Columbia River to Washington and California refineries via the Pacific Ocean. If the federal crude oil export ban were lifted, the number of crude-by-rail trains and barges traveling through Washington and Oregon could increase significantly more than currently projected.

The known risks associated with oil-by-rail transport, oil tank storage, and oil export by vessel pose an unacceptable threat to human health and safety. As concerned Washington and Oregon health care professionals, we are deeply troubled by the public health and safety impacts of these proposals.

A thorough review of data published in peer-reviewed medical journals and other reliable sources is summarized below, and the findings are discussed in greater detail in Appendices A-F.

As Washington and Oregon health care professionals, we oppose the transport by rail and the storage and shipment of crude oil within our states on the basis of very serious, credible threats to the health of our residents. Further, we call upon Governors of Washington and Oregon, as well as agencies in both states, to deny permits that facilitate the transport, storage and handling of crude oil by rail and/or barge.

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility:  wpsr.org  |  206.547.2630  |  wpsr@wpsr.org 

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility:  oregonpsr.org  |  503.274.2720  |  info@oregonpsr.org