Anacortes American Jan 21, 2015
The Skagit County hearing examiner will hold public hearings on Shell Puget Sound Refinery’s permit applications for a crude-by-rail unloading facility at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 28 and 29.
The hearings pertain to an appeal submitted by Earthjustice of the county’s decision to allow the project to move forward without requiring an environmental review through the State Environmental Policy Act.
The mitigated determination of nonsignificance applies to Shell’s applications for a shoreline substantial development permit/variance permit, PL13-0468, filed in December 2013 and forest practice conversion permit, PL14-0079, filed in March 2014.
The proposed rail facility would be capable of receiving one 102-tank train a day. A portion of it would be located within shoreline jurisdiction associated with Padilla Bay, according to the county. Revisions to the existing BNSF rail line include adding a short section of rail and rail switches to allow a train to fully enter Shell property.
The appeal was filed in September by Earthjustice along with RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Evergreen Islands, FRIENDS of the San Juans, ForestEthics, Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth.
“These conservation groups are filing this appeal because of significant risks and impacts to people, water and wildlife, and are demanding a full environmental review,” Earthjustice said when the appeal was filed. The group wants to prevent Shell from using a rail facility to ship crude over marine waters.
Crude oil trains heading to the Tesoro Refinery, just north of Shell on March Point, already cross the swing bridge over the Swinomish Channel near the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Burlington/Mount Vernon bridge over the Skagit River, upstream from the Anacortes water treatment plant.
The public hearings will be in the county commissioners hearing room, 1800 Continental Place in Mount Vernon.
Comments regarding the project must be received by county planning and development services no later than 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27 or presented at the public hearing.
Email comments may be submitted through the PDS website under the current legal notices tab.
More project information is available at http://skagitcounty.net/Departments/PlanningAndPermit/shellpermit.htm and by contacting Leah Forbes at (360) 336-9410.
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