Terminal commits to more safety measures

By Vancouver Energy On July 28, 2016

Safety commitments, rail safety and economic need were among the topics discussed during the last two days of testimony at the adjudication proceedings.

Jared Larrabee, General Manager of Vancouver Energy, announced that Vancouver Energy has committed to several new safety measures for the proposed terminal.

The new measures:

  • Require a “boom boat” to be on the Columbia River at all times while vessels are being loaded with oil at the terminal.
  • Diversion piping that would divert crude oil from the sump at the dock to provide an additional measure of safety during loading of marine vessels.
  • Sponsor three emergency response training exercises in which Vancouver Energy, BNSF Railway and state, local and tribal leaders would be invited to participate. These exercises would take place in Vancouver, Spokane and in the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Pay for the City of Vancouver and Clark County fire departments to fund backup staffing while its employees attend emergency response training.
  • Work with the Port of Vancouver to install a looping system that will provide additional water flow at the terminal for fire protection.
  • Include gas alarms at the terminal, allow employees to shut down the facility with a push of a button and require on-site employees to wear fire retardant clothing and personal air monitors. Protection of employees adds an additional level of protection for the community.
  • Additional spill response equipment will be staged along the Columbia River to respond in the event of an incident. Specifically, Vancouver Energy and its Oil Spill Response contractors will strategically place “Current Buster” oil containment system at Pasco, Vancouver, Portland and Astoria. This state-of-the-art response equipment is designed to capture oil in high current conditions.

These are in addition to safety measures already announced, including:

  • A tug escort for all loaded vessels from the terminal transiting the Columbia River, which is not currently done for any vessels transiting the Columbia today.
  • Accepting at the terminal only rail cars that meet or exceed DOT-117 standards. This is above and beyond federal regulations, which allow for continued use of legacy DOT-111 and CPC-1232 rail cars until they’re phased out.

UPDATE (Oct. 7, 2016) – Vancouver Energy this week filed a revised application to the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) that includes the additional safety measures listed above. The revised application (which can be seen in full here) also included the following commitments:

  • A proposal to begin operations of the terminal at 50 percent of the optimal throughput (180,000 barrels per day), and to allow this throughput to increase only after demonstrating the facility operates safely;
  • commitment to supply Washington state refiners;
  • support of the state Department of Ecology’s applying the barrel tax to crude-by-rail terminals;
  • and financial assurances.

More from the July 28 adjudication recap:

--Dr. Chris Barkan, a civil and environmental engineering professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, testified that the derailment rate on the route that trains would take to the proposed terminal is significantly lower than the industry average. Most of the route is rated highly as Class 4 by the Federal Railroad Association, which means less risk, and includes wayside signals, which increases safety.

The DOT-117 tank cars that Vancouver Energy will allow at the facility are 83 percent less likely to release oil in the event of a derailment than the legacy DOT-111 tank cars and 68 percent less likely than the CPC-1232 cars, Barkan said.

--Brad Roach, senior director for market analysis and senior economist at Tesoro, testified that Vancouver Energy will provide a reliable source of domestic oil from the Bakken region as the supply of Alaska North Slope oil continues to decline. Washington refineries have experienced a steady supply of domestic oil for four decades but will need another source as the Alaska oil becomes less available, Roach said.

Vancouver Energy will also provide a bridge to the country’s energy future of alternative fuels, Roach said. The terminal in its lifespan could even handle domestic biofuels transported by rail.

(For more background about the economic need for the proposed terminal, read a summary here of Roach’s first day of testimony, on June 27.)