Centralia More than 150 people were on hand at the Centralia High School auditorium Tuesday night to voice their concerns against two new oil transfer centers slated to be built in Grays Harbor.
The meeting was meant to be a platform for public comments and concerns related to the two projects, but the message from attendees was clear and unified — study as many impacts as possible, but don’t let the trains come through Western Washington.
Nearly every speaker expressed concerns about the increase in global warming, potential derailments, the unpreparedness of municipalities in the face of explosions and the potentially disastrous results for rail neighborhoods.
“There were two cars that went off the tracks (in Aberdeen) today. That could have been oil, that could have been explosive material,” said Grays Harbor County Commissioner Frank Gordon during the meeting. “I’m going to ask for blasting walls to protect people in busy areas.”
Many fear that Westway Terminal Company and Imperium Renewables will be able to shield themselves from environmental disasters and thus leave taxpayers holding the tab for cleanup and emergency services. Several opponents requested the Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Hoquiam require a $50 million bond before either terminal is allowed to proceed.
Attendees also stressed their fears of the explosive crude from the Bakken shale in North Dakota and Montana, citing the derailment and explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people last summer.
The 120-car trains would pass through Centralia on their way to two Grays Harbor oil terminals. If each terminal is built, Grays Harbor could store nearly three million barrels of oil.
The Centralia meeting was the second of two public hearings for people to address the City of Hoquiam and the Washington Department of Ecology with any concerns they may have over the proposed terminals.
The meetings happened in large part because the Quinault Tribe sued the Department of Ecology, the City of Hoquiam and Westway Terminal Company, alleging inadequate environmental studies.