Crude by rail plans moving forward locally
Imperium Renewables and Westway have sent a joint letter today asking the City of Hoquiam and the state Department of Ecology to begin developing environmental impact statements (EIS) on the companies’ projects at the Port of Grays Harbor.
Although both companies maintain they have satisfied all relevant environmental protection laws, they acknowledge there is strong interest in the issue of shipping crude oil by rail.
“We want to provide ample opportunity for airing and responding to any concerns regarding the terminal expansions and the robust EIS process provides that opportunity,” Imperium Renewables CEO John Plaza said. “These are safe, well-designed facilities that are similar to many other facilities that are safely operating in Washington.”
“We remain committed to Grays Harbor and this project,” added Gene McClain, CEO of Westway Group LLC. “We’re here to invest in the community and make sure we do our part which includes addressing the concerns and questions raised by our neighbors in this new permit application.”
The City and Ecology had issued both companies permits allowing them to move forward last year, but in November, the Shoreline Hearings Board cancelled its hearing on the permits and issued an order requiring more information about the cumulative impacts of increased rail and marine traffic associated with the terminal expansions.
Both companies were already in the process of gathering data on those issues, and that research will contribute to the development of the environmental impact statement.
Proposed expansions at the Port of Grays Harbor by Westway and Imperium are projected to result in $143.3 million in direct and indirect investment during the year-long construction period, according to a study released by Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. The study also projected that the companies will spend $97.8 million in their first full year of operation. This will result in an additional $18.8 million in indirect economic output in Grays Harbor County.
Combined, these projects will create 148 direct fulltime family-wage jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs for the community and millions more in annual income.
“These kinds of investments are what make the Harbor an attractive place for other businesses looking to locate here,” explained Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. “We are excited that Westway and Imperium is working with our community to grow these opportunities.”
Both companies anticipate the EIS process will take approximately one year allowing for construction to begin in 2015. Construction will take approximately 12 months.