Environmental Review Ordered for SeaPort Sound Terminal Expansion!

The City of Tacoma has informed concerned residents that the expansion proposal from SeaPort Sound Terminal will require further review. Initially deemed “non-significant”, the proposal would see the old refinery and some storage tanks demolished and replaced with over 180,000 barrels of new storage capacity. Despite having recently increased their train loading capacity, the company dubiously claims that neither project will result in increased throughput at the facility located off Marine View Drive.

When the initial determination of non-significance was made around September of last year, 350 Tacoma and other environmental groups rallied concerned citizens to submit comments to the City Planning Department. 350 Tacoma alone helped in the submission of over 420 letters. Ridiculously, the SeaPort proposal claimed that no “toxic or hazardous chemicals” would be stored “during the operating life of the project.”

Thanks to public pressure, Shirley Schultz of Development Services announced via email today that “An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposal is required. The City has identified the following areas for discussion in the EIS: emergency response, risks to public safety, intelligent transportation systems for emergency access, spill prevention and response, and air quality – to include the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from the additional products to be stored on the site.”

The City is taking input on what should be included in the environmental review, and 350 Tacoma has submitted that environmental justice (particularly when it comes to Puyallup Tribal treaty rights), public health, cumulative emissions, and future relevance of fossil fuels be taken into consideration.

350 Tacoma has been asking the City for years to block the expansion of fossil fuels and requiring an environmental review is a huge first step. We’re still calling upon the City to ban fossil fuel expansion when they renew the interim regulations in May, especially if they cement the regulations in place for the duration of the subarea planning process.

The interim regulations, which currently require renewal every six months, have been in place while the City and other stakeholders re-zone the port during the Subarea Planning Process. This process has already taken two years and will require many more. The regulations temporarily block new heavy industry from establishing itself in the Port but unfortunately allow current fossil fuel uses to expand without limit. Concerned residents have been calling for the interim regulations to be strengthened from the beginning, which would block proposals from the likes of SeaPort Sound Terminal from the get-go.

SeaPort Sound Terminal Expansion Proposal: https://aca.accela.com/tacoma/Default.aspx (search for LU20-0107, then “Record Info” and “Attachments” to see project documents)

Shirley Schultz: shirley.schultz@cityoftacoma.org

350 Tacoma Form Letter: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/seaport-sound-terminal-eis-scope/