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Port, city should have taken oil train concerns more seriously

Today, around this beautiful county, people should feel guardedly encouraged. My friends, we have received some buoying news. It lifts my spirits to hear, and read that the “Crude by Rail” plan for The Port of Grays Harbor is on hold. Hopefully, this raises the spirits of all Harborites, including our children and grandchildren — even those not yet born into this “fracked & extracted” petroleum fueled world.

According to the Shoreline Hearings Board, the city of Hoquiam has made a grave error in its Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for Westway and Imperium, two of the three companies wanting to bring “crude by rail” to our port each year into perpetuity. In layman terms, this means Hoquiam failed to fully consider the significant impact of these volumes of “crude by rail” on us, on our communities and on our harbor.

For now, Grays Harbor will temporarily escape an immediate thrust into the clutches of big petroleum. Permits have been remanded back to The City of Hoquiam, back to The Department of Ecology, back to the drawing board! Yippee, but it should be back in the laps of the Port Commissioners who should regret putting all this in motion—and apologize to the people of this county. Gee, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

Expert testimony has brought to light both the lack of thoroughness and the mistakes in the MDNS ruling by the City of Hoquiam, who must now take time for a more proper & thorough scrutiny on the “real impacts” — impacts of increased rail traffic on an aging infrastructure. Also, in order, is a more thorough look at increased vessel traffic, including oil tankers, oil barges and tugs, moving along with the current vessel traffic in Grays Harbor. Finally the inescapable dangers of weather & seismic events, millions of gallons of crude oil, stored in a tsunami zone — all must be addressed!

Isn’t it ironic, at the time of Hoquiam’s MDNS on Westway, many, if not most, of these same concerns were raised by 44 citizenss who took the time to do the research and write letters to the City of Hoquiam, Brian Shay and The Department of Ecology — and some to the Port. All remained silent to those letters. At that time, last May, I found it offensive that there were no responses to any citizens’ concerns from those entities. The letters were received — perhaps they weren’t read? Where is the concern for the safety and lives and jobs of we, the people of Grays Harbor County? Where is our voice? It should be coming from the mouths of our Port Commissioners. Isn’t it our Port? Don’t we pay a lot of taxes to the Port? Don’t we elect the three Port Commissioners who usually run unopposed? Not this November.

While some have been accused of making the current race for Port Commissioner, Dist. No. 3 — a one issue campaign — it isn’t. “Crude by Rail” is certainly not the only issue; it is simply the most critical. It is indefensible and the most dangerous issue faced by our citizens. We are at a crossroads. Communities, businesses and citizens in our county cannot be convinced by the current Dist. 3 Port Commissioner, Chuck Caldwell, of any benefits presented by 110 additional crude oil trains per month through our towns, across our waters, past our homes, diminishing our property values and our lives. It is claimed that our Port is doing well, where is the trickle down? The honesty? The tranparency? We, the people of Grays Harbor, are not expendable. Port commissioners can be replaced if they do not value expert testimony, the lives, opinions, health and safety of the people, and pioneers in all of the communities across Grays Harbor, east to west, north to south. Election day is Nov. 5. Ballots are coming to your mail boxes Oct. 18.

I ask you all to “Balance the Port.” I rest my case.

Carol Seaman


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