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12/3/2015



Rail News: Safety

Washington state regulator raises rail safety concerns of Grays Harbor oil projects


Developers of the proposed Westway and Imperium oil terminals in Grays Harbor County, Wash., must address railroad safety concerns before their project can move forward, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) announced this week.

In comments submitted on the draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) for the proposed oil terminal projects, the WUTC listed among its concerns the integrity of the track that would be used to transport crude oil to the facilities; the impact on rail crossings; and the financial ability of the project owners to address spills or accidents, WUTC officials said in a press release.

Westway Terminal Co. LLC, which owns an existing methanol distribution facility at the Port of Grays Harbor, has proposed an expansion of storage capacity for crude oil facilities. The expansion would add up to five storage tanks capable of holding up to 8.4 million gallons of crude oil each, and add rail and pipeline infrastructure at the site.

Imperium Terminal Services, which owns an existing biodiesel production and transport facility next to the Westway facility, has proposed to build up to nine storage tanks to hold up to 3.4 million gallons of liquids each, including crude oil. Imperium also wants to add rail and pipeline facilities.

The companies anticipate receiving Bakken crude oil shopped by rail from the Midwest. Additionally, they would load and unload crude oil and other liquids by barge and ship, according to WUTC.

But the commission is concerned about the capacity of railroad bridges located between Centralia and the project site to handle trains carrying Bakken crude oil; the accuracy of identified private railroad crossings along the oil route; failure to address safety at 17 public crossings that WUTC has identified as "at risk;" and the integrity of the track and subgrade along a section that was the site of three derailments in 2014.

"The DEIS raises a number of significant safety issues that need to be addressed before this project is considered further," said WUTC Chairman David Danner. "Those issues bear directly on the state’s ability to deal with spills and accidents along the oil train routes."



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