An open letter to Governor Jay Inslee by Laurie Lawhon, Lakewood, WA
Washington state is positioning itself to become the industrial underbelly of the United States. You have stood for undoing industrial disasters, such as the radiation at Hanford.
Now there are two projects coming up, that could well create industrial disasters. Washington currently enjoys a decent water supply (although we finally face drought) and relatively healthy land — this is at risk.
At the Paris climate conference, just last month, the world came to a consensus to move away from fossil fuels. Both of these projects support the desire of the energy companies to make ever greater profits, utilizing their fossil fuels model.
The two projects:
TESORO-SAVAGE OIL TRAIN TERMINAL
They want to build, in Vancouver, WA, NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST oil-by-rail facility.
In December, Congress lifted the four-decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Tesoro-Savage will be the biggest of the huge oil-train terminals that Big Oil plans to build. Just at Tesoro-Savage, they plan is to export up to 360,000 barrels of crude daily . . . to be burned around the world.
A U.S. energy surplus is now touted — but at what cost? Fracking only harvests 20% of the natural gas (80% gets away), and contaminates massive amounts of water. The U.S. is paying a disturbing price, so that Big Oil can ship our extra crude overseas. Not to mention the dangers such as hazardous-material-carrying trains crossing the country, and the concentrations of flammable and explosive materials.
NWIW GAS PLANT
They want to build, on Tacoma’s tideflats, for $3.4 billion, THE WORLD’S LARGEST plant for converting natural gas to methanol.
Washington state now has drought; the plant would use 10.4 million gallons of water, daily . . . so that we can send methanol to China and get back plastics. (And whatever happened to keeping the jobs in our country?) Not to mention the danger of concentrating complicated massive factories, storage facilities, chemicals, and etc., right on top of two earthquake fault lines.
The track record:
Washington is lining up for a lot of firsts: “North America’s largest,” “world’s largest.” But history shows that, even if the intentions are benign, these massive operations cannot be operated safely. The scientists and engineers, the governments and corporations, the computers and systems — do not handle it.
Remember the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (Ukraine 1986)?
Remember the Three Mile Island nuclear incident (Pennsylvania, USA, 1979)? It was a partial meltdown, and the nuclear experts of the world flew in to help but didn’t know what to do.
Remember The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (Japan, 2011)? After a big earthquake, a giant tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling systems of three reactors, and all three cores largely melted.
Remember Union Carbide India’s gas leak disaster at their Bhopal pesticide plant (India, 1984)? Routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank, causing the release into the air of deadly gases. (Some blamed slack management and deferred maintenance.)
Remember the BP oil spill disaster (Gulf of Mexico, USA, 2010)? The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, destroying the pipe connecting the ocean-floor well and the surface platform; consequently, a crude oil gusher flowed at the sea floor. (The flow was so massive that it spewed in just days as much oil as the entire Exxon Valdez oil spill [Alaska, USA, 1989].) Attempts to shut down the flow failed because a safety device (the blowout preventer) could not be activated. The gusher flowed for 87 days.
Haven’t remembered enough? Look up “methane disasters,” “natural gas plant explosions,” “accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials,” or “oil refinery accidents.”
Did Congress volunteer Washington state for Tesoro-Savage? Did the Tacoma City Council volunteer us for the NWIW Gas Plant? HOW DID THESE PROJECTS SNEAK IN WITHOUT A PUBLIC VOTE? They are presented to us as nearly done deals, except for environmental studies.
Fascinating — especially since they now plan to put the world’s largest natural gas/methanol plant on the Tacoma tideflats — that I just now heard about our CURRENT out-of-control methane disaster, Porter Ranch!
The Porter Ranch methane leak (near Los Angeles, USA, 2015). Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) owns a natural gas storage facility, that is leaking methane. So much methane, in fact, that this is being called “the nation’s biggest environmental disaster since the 2010 BP oil spill.” (So far, only part of the Porter Ranch community has been relocated by SoCalGas.) The cause is believed to be that a well casing was breached deep below the ground. SoCalGas did have safety valves in place at 8,000 feet down — they would have prevented this catastrophic disaster — but SoCalGas had removed them and never replaced them. The leak started October 23, 2015; SoCalGas says it could take three to four months to stop the leak.
As long as we’re selling this beautiful state down the river, we may as well start fracking for natural gas and destroying the water. But I don’t mean that. I say: GIVE THE CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON A VOTE ON THESE PROJECTS.