As many as 5 mile-and-a-half-long oil trains per day would carry North American crude through the Columbia River Gorge. A final hearing takes place Tuesday, on the industrial storm water permit. The proposal has been in play about 4 years now.
Rebecca Ponzio is with Washington Conservation Voters, which has banded together with several other groups in an attempt to stop it. They're calling on the public to comment in person or via the internet, in a final attempt to persuade public officials.
“It’s so large that this project is being reviewed by what’s called the State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which ultimately makes a recommendation to the governor, who has the final decision on all the permits,” Ponzio said.
She says the other way it could be stopped is if Vancouver’s Port Commissioners deny a lease. And there’s a candidate for an open seat on the 3-member commission who is running on a promise to join with one other member in stopping it.
Opponents are concerned about safety issues such as the recent fiery derailment of an oil train in Mosier Oregon. Ponzio says with so much new train traffic, there’s a higher potential for derailments and explosions.
“The same kind that exploded in Mosier, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge – fully loaded, every single day, down the Columbia River, through the Columbia River Gorge, into Vancouver.”
Two additional oil-by-rail proposals are also in play, in Grays Harbor, near Aberdeen. Proponents of all three projects say the oil can be moved safely. And they want the revenue and jobs that would come with construction.