Revising oil-pollution levels in Puget Sound

by Tim Flanagan on May 23, 2011

[The site of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The demand for another port with agricultural capacity might take time if it develops at all. But the people planning to develop a big coal port say that shipping farm products could be a big advantage of construction at Cherry Point.]

Floyd McKay has the story at Crosscut:

Nearly 90 percent of its proposed bulk-cargo terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham is designed for open-storage cargo (coal). But for four hours last Thursday (May 19), this site SSA Marine held forth on the virtues of using the giant export terminal to ship grain and other agriculture products.

With the focus in nearby Bellingham rapidly solidifying on the impacts of coal and the massive trains bringing it from the Powder River Basin for trans-shipment to China, more about it was a chance for SSA to talk about the smaller twin in its family.

Agriculture representatives from regional and national organizations seemed supportive of another option to ship product to Asia, but it was clear from their presentations that most of any added export moving through the prospective Gateway Pacific port would come from east of Washington’s borders. The state is already a major exporter of agriculture products, but its largest export — wheat — is not among the crops expected to experience a marketing boom in Asia, because neither China nor India is a wheat importer.

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The state Department of Ecology has a new study that updates years of bad pollution data for Puget Sound. The challenge is better defined but not diminished.

This editorial appears in the Seattle Times:

PUGET Sound is not being polluted by hyperbole. Toxic runoff and stormwater present environmental hazards for the waterway that are real, prosthesis
even if contamination levels have been overstated in the past.

The state Department of Ecology issued a new study that dramatically reduces its estimate of oil-pollution levels in the Sound. Petroleum remains the biggest single contaminant, diagnosis
but the study found the mass, or weight, to be smaller than old numbers that fueled dramatic analogies.

Times reporter Craig Welch explained how DOE was held accountable by Lincoln Loehr, an oceanographer and Seattle attorney, who raised persistent challenges to state figures.

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