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Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 25 July 2013

Hundreds of protesters are expected in the Columbia River and at the Vancouver waterfront this Saturday to protest the Port of Vancouver's vote to build a super-terminal for crude oil.

The Port, in a unanimous vote Tuesday, approved a crude oil shipping and storage facility that, if it gains environmental approvals, would be the biggest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

The project, headed by petroleum refining company Tesoro and its partner, Savage, which specializes in supply chain logistics, will bring crude oil shipped by train from across North America to Vancouver, where it will be shipped by water o refineries in California, Washington and Alaska.

The proposed 42 acre-site was red-flagged by activists – already mobilizing against use of the Columbia River corridor for coal shipments – after a massive explosion of a runaway crude oil train in Quebec July 6 almost leveled a small town, killing dozens of residents and leaving some bodies unidentified even today.

Port officials say the 10-year lease they approved with the Tesoro-Savage Joint Venture is expected to create between "80 and 120 permanent jobs and 250 temporary construction jobs," with projected profits of some $45 million over the decade to the Port itself.

Officials say the corporate partners are expected to invest $100 million in the facility.

The workshops and floating demonstration planned for Saturday is one is a slate of similar protests slated around the country by the climate-change watchdog group www.530.org.

The Portland/Vancouver-area organizing website for the project is www.PortlandRisingTide.org .

The local protest is at Vancouver Landing, on the west side of the I-5 bridge, with workshops starting at 10 and a flotilla of all sorts of water craft going into the water from 1:30-2:30 in a symbolic blockade of the river to fossil fuel shipments.

Protesters will also march on the sidewalks across the I-5 bridge.

Local spokesperson Mia Reback echoed environmental activist Bill McKibben of 350.org who traveled to Vancouver last week for an event on climate change and fuel shipping through the Columbia River.

"The Columbia River is emerging as a critical choke point for many of the more than 15 fossil fuel terminals proposed throughout our region," Reback said.

"This Saturday people from all across the region will converge at the Vancouver Landing to protest fossil fuel infrastructure in the Northwest and draw attention to their climate impacts by engaging in a symbolic blockade to demonstrate the region's readiness to engage in peaceful civil disobedience and direct action to keep the region from becoming a fossil fuel corridor that would fuel the climate crisis."

Reback stressed that the size of the proposed terminal – expected to process more than 380,000 barrels per day – make it a "super terminal," and dozens of opponents of the project testified earlier this week against its approval, including business owners with development interests near the site.

Port officials' vote came after a 10-week series of workshops on "marine safety, rail safety, the permitting process, an overview of the TSJV project, and a discussion of overarching elements covered under the TSJV lease," officials said.

The final workshop, held July 22, was packed with opponents, including local residents, environmentalists, and climate-change activists.

Also questioning the port's plans was Gramor Development President Barry Cain, who is in the midst of planning a $1.5 billion facelift of the Vancouver waterfront including homes, businesses, a hotel, new restaurants and more – all in close proximity of the proposed new oil terminal.

Oregonian reporter Scott Learn reported this week Cain testified that – in the wake of the Quebec explosion -- the Vancouver terminal deserved more scrutiny.

The port says it is putting extra effort into safety logistics.

The project now advances to the environmental permitting process, which will be led by the Washington State's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

Watch the public workshops on the oil terminal at www.cvtv.org, for more information on the development also go to www.portvanusa.com.

For more information about the demonstrations go to www.portlandrisingtide.org , or www.350.org, or search for Columbia River Climate Action on Facebook.


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