About 300 people attended an open house and public comment session Monday at the Lynnwood Convention Center that addressed a proposed railroad project at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes.
The planned project would accommodate up to six trains per week that would deliver crude oil to the refinery, replacing crude that is currently received at the facility by ship.
Those providing comments during the three-hour scoping meeting Monday shared concerns over environmental, safety, public health, climate change and traffic issues that they say would result from the additional crude oil tanker trains that would run on BNSF railways in the Puget Sound area if the rail project in Anacortes is approved.
Monday’s meeting drew people from Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties in addition to a few public office holders from the local area. Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson, speaking during the public comment period, urged Skagit County and state officials to “analyze on a regional scale” the impact of the rail project in Anacortes. Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas spoke of safety concerns she and her fellow councilmembers have specifically for Edmonds.
“We say no to oil trains, simply no to oil trains in Edmonds,” Fraley-Monillas testified during her two-minute comment period. “There is no mitigation you can do to make oil trains safe in our city.”
Many who spoke at the meeting expressed fear of derailments or explosive accidents that might occur with the crude oil tanker trains.
While facilitators of the scoping session, run by the HDI Consulting firm, urged those who wished to speak at the meeting to focus their comments on their concerns for the Anacortes rail project, many of the speakers chose to voice their opposition to fossil fuels in general. Cody LaSalle, a former resident of Edmonds, said, “Oil shouldn’t be extracted out of the ground. It’s murdering the planet.”
A group of senior citizens who called themselves the Seattle Raging Grannies sang a song to the tune of Home of the Range; their song ended with the line “… keep all that oil in the ground.”
All comments at the meeting were documented by a court reporter; attendees were also given opportunity to express comments in written form using a bank of computers made available at the open house.
The Lynnwood meeting was the last of three held this month by Skagit County and the Washington State Department of Ecology in order to collect public comments on the rail project in advance of a Draft Environment Impact Statement to be published by the agencies next spring. The public can still comment on the proposed rail project by phone, mail, e-mail or by hand-delivering written comments to the Skagit County Planning and Development Services Department in Mount Vernon through Nov. 5.
— By Doug Petrowski
To comment on proposed Shell Anacortes Rail Unloading Facility
By phone: call 1-844-254-9668 (five-minute time limit for messages)
By e-mail: to [email protected]
By mail: to Shell Rail EIS, P.O. Box 21206, Seattle, WA 98111
In person: to Skagit County Planning and Development Services, 1800
Continental Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273