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Commissioners vote down crude by rail resolution

The Grays Harbor County Commissioners voted 2-1 against a resolution Monday regarding petroleum transport by rail through Grays Harbor County after three recent derailments.

Commissioner Frank Gordon offered the resolution that he said was put together borrowed from separate resolutions made governments in the Seattle and Spokane areas.

The resolution, which was brought up during a regularly scheduled meeting, included six sections relating to different aspects of petroleum transport, such as urging the state to adopt legislation, requesting site evaluation, emergency-management review and increased regulations on tank cars.

“We’re not telling people they can’t,” Gordon said before a vote. “What we are asking is to make sure that before crude comes down here that all the steps have been taken. Everything that has happened so far with the rail or the port is after the fact. When something happens or something breaks they say, ‘That won’t happen again.’ I’m just very fearful. We can’t tell the government what to do, but this letter could be sent to the scoping process.”

Commissioner Wes Cormier said he agreed with portions of the letter, but not the whole resolution. Cormier said the section including tank-car design was one of the main sticking points.

“I don’t know if this is a position the board should take. A lot of things affect us that are federally regulated and I just don’t want to get into those types of things. Due to the three derailments we have had, I would be in favor of asking for more safety precautions.”

Commissioner Herb Welch said he also supported increased safety measure, but was also unsure if it was the place of the commissioners to make a resolution.

“I applaud your activism,” Cormier said to Gordon. “But I couldn’t support this in its entirety.”