Tesoro defends proposed oil terminal

The Tesoro crude-by-rail facility — proposed in 2013 for Vancouver — is back in the spotlight following last weeks oil train derailment in Mosier.

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The accident called into question the future of the 42-acre site at the Port of Vancouver. Proponents, including the Port of Vancouver and Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council, underscore the economic value of the proposed terminal, while opponents question its environmental impact.

An Oregon Business poll asking if the terminal should be put on hold resulted in a split vote.

Oregon Business talked with Tina Barbee, spokesperson for Tesoro’s Vancouver Energy terminal, about the future of the terminal in the wake of last week’s derailment.

OB: How will the oil spill affect plans for the terminal?

TB: We remain committed to our proposed Vancouver Energy terminal, to the safe handling of crude oil and to continuous improvement. Tesoro and Savage have decades of combined experience operating marine and rail crude oil facilities safely, and the facts support our ability to build and operate a terminal at the Port of Vancouver USA in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. We recognize the serious nature of the derailment near Mosier, and will be examining the results of the investigation, once complete, to determine any lessons learned that can be applied to enhance the safety of transporting crude oil by rail.

OB: What is Tesoro doing to ensure safety?

TB: Tesoro and Vancouver Energy have foam, boom and oil spill response equipment staged in Pasco, Wishram and Vancouver, Washington. We also have additional resources available as part of our membership in the Marine Spill Response Corporation and the Clean Rivers Cooperative. Upon learning of the Mosier derailment, we immediately offered our emergency response equipment and Clean Rivers’ resources directly to Union Pacific. As previously announced, Tesoro has committed to upgrading its crude oil rail car fleet to DOT 120J cars that exceed the new federal safety standards announced last year as the DOT 117 rail cars. Vancouver Energy will require all customers of the terminal to use DOT 117 or better tank cars in advance of the federal retrofit schedule.

OB: What is the bottom line benefit of the terminal?

TB: The proposed Vancouver Energy terminal will serve a basic and important function: the safe transfer of North American crude oil from rail to ship. Transporting crude oil safely is essential for the production of transportation fuels needed for traveling to work, school and other daily destinations, and to provide many of the petroleum-based products we all use on a regular basis. Vancouver Energy will bring thousands of needed family-wage jobs to the area, generate $2 billion in economic value to the local and regional economy through labor income and tax revenues, and help reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. It is has the potential to displace 30 percent of the crude oil currently imported for use by West Coast refineries, and provides a path for bringing lower-carbon fuels to the West Coast.

OB: What is the status of the project?

TB: The review and permitting process continues to move forward with The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) beginning the next step — the adjudicative phase — June 27 to July 29. The adjudicatory proceedings involve a formal hearing process in a courtroom setting with the applicant and adjudication participants providing their input on the proposed terminal. The proceedings, which will be open to the public, will take place Monday through Thursday of each week with the first and last weeks held in Vancouver, Washington, and the middle three weeks in Olympia, Washington. Testimony and exhibits presented in the adjudicative hearing will be included as part of EFSEC’s final recommendation to Gov. Inslee, expected later this year.