Judge: Tideflats liquid natural gas plant records not to be disclosed

Puget Sound Energy has won a court injunction to temporarily prevent the city of Tacoma from disclosing hazardous-materials information about a proposed Tideflats liquid natural gas terminal.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson issued an order Thursday granting the utility company’s request to bar city officials from disclosing records related to the plant’s hazardous materials assessment, which an environmental activist had requested.

The utility company wants to build a $275 million facility to supply the Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) shipping company with liquid natural gas and store up to 8 million gallons of the fuel on site.

John Carlton, a member of the Red Line Tacoma, had requested that Tacoma officials hand over records PSE provided to the Fire Department during the permitting process concerning plant safety.

The Red Line Tacoma formed in opposition to a proposed methanol plant on nearby Port of Tacoma property.

PSE asked Cuthbertson to bar the disclosure on several grounds, including that they included trade secrets and making them public could enable a terrorist attack at the facility.

The utility company leased property from the port in 2014 to build the facility, which is slated to open in 2019. The city in October released an 850-page study of its environmental effects.

Federal law makes an exemption to public-records laws for certain energy infrastructure information that could create such a vulnerability.

Cuthbertson wrote in his order that the federal restrictions protect the documents from disclosure and that Carlton “has no particular need for the information.”

Cuthbertson scheduled an April 29 hearing over whether to make the temporary injunction permanent.

Derrick Nunnally: 253-597-8693