Trial by Fire: Lessons Not Learned One Year after Lac-MeganticPermalink +
Wed, Jul 02, 2014, 5:14 pm // Terry Wechsler
Commentary on crude-by-rail proposals:
On July 7, 2013, 47 people died when a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and tanker cars exploded in the heart of the small town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Next week (July 7-11, 2014) rail communities throughout North America will commemorate the one-year anniversary of that tragedy and stand in solidarity with what has become a Sister City to us all. At the end of this article is a message from Lac-Megantic to her sisters.
In my article “Washington’s Crude Awakening” in the July issue of Whatcom Watch, I discuss the proposed crude by rail proposals in the Pacific Northwest and what they mean for Washington’s rail infrastructure and the safety of our towns and terrestrial and aquatic environments. Two of the refinery proposals, Tesoro Anacortes and BP Cherry Point, have completed their infrastructure. Phillips 66 anticipates completion by December 2014, and Shell Anacortes is in the permitting process.
If all area refinery crude-by-rail proposals were fully operational, 1.5 unit (fully-dedicated) crude trains would travel along the coast from Bow, up the coast, through Bellingham and Ferndale, bound for Cherry Point. Burlington and Mt. Vernon would experience 3.5 loaded trains per day. But if all of the crude-by-rail proposals proposed in Washington were approved, including new terminals, there could be 100 trains per week entering Washington passing through Spokane, bound for the Columbia River Valley moving toward proposed destinations.
The Skagit and Whatcom County refinery crude-by-rail proposals are but four of the now over 20 fossil fuel transportation proposals in the region that include coal, crude, and LPG. We are facing a perfect storm of corporate activity that will overwhelm infrastructure, threaten our container ports and aquaculture industries, and negatively impact our economy at a time when we should be investing in education and other identified priorities, but must shift funding to emergency response and cleanup functions that no industry is guaranteeing to indemnify.
Protection of our environment, economic viability of other industries, and our very lives would require significant policy shifts that no politician has yet expressed even an interest in tackling. The public is reduced to signing petitions, such as that from Forest Ethics, begging state officials to at least stop approving permits for proposals until we can fully assess risks and prepare for response. What no one is discussing is adequate mitigation measures, and shifting the costs associated with known risks to proponents of these activities in a way that would eliminate the need to litigate for decades after-the-fact in the event of a catastrophe as shippers, rail carriers, and destination facilities haggle over who bears what share of responsibility, and all blame the regulators. Not one city or county official in Whatcom County has spoken publicly about this issue.
For a full list of known actions around North America the week of July 7, click here. Below is a list of known activities in this region.
- July 8, Vancouver, 12:00 Protest at the Department of Transportation, 11018 NE 51st Circle. Contact email@example.com.
- July 9, Vancouver, 12:00 Say No to Nustar Protest, 5420 Fruit Valley Road. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- July 10, Vancouver, 6:00 p.m. No Explosive Oil Trains or Oil Port Rally, Esther Short Park, Corner of 8th and Esther Short. Contact email@example.com.
- July 11, Vancouver, 12:00 Protest at the Federal Railroad Administration, 500 Broadway, Suite 240. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grays Harbor County
- July 6, Aberdeen, 12:00 Honoring Those Lost, The 1855 Treaty and The Earth, Zelasko Park, F Street. Honor the Lac-Megantic victims; join with the Quinault, Quileute and Hoh Tribes as a week’s celebration of the July 1st anniversary of the Quinault River Treaty of 1855 culminates; and learn about Grays Harbor crude-by-rail proposals that will impact our Earth.
- July 12, Seattle, 11:00 No Oil Trains! ~ No Way! Rally, between piers 69 & 70, Seattle Waterfront, Alaskan Way and Clay Street. Hear speakers and musical performances.
- July 7, Mt. Vernon, 5:15 p.m. Protect Skagit Lac-Megantic Memorial, Skagit Transit Center Plaza, 105 Kincaid St. Contact: email@example.com. Meet at the plaza to join the march to the BNSF tracks and on to the Skagit County Courthouse for a remembrance of lives lost in Lac-Megantic.
- July 8, Anacortes, 6:30 p.m. Risky Business: How Oil Transport Threatens Washington’s Health, Communities, and Waters forum, http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5168/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=71467, Senior Center, 1701 22nd St. Contact Rein Atteman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-631-2625.
- July 8, Spokane, 12:00 Demand Safer Railcars rally, Spokane office, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, N. 10 Post. Contact Spokane Rising Tide, email@example.com.
- July 11, Olympia, 4:00 p.m. Oly Against Oil Rails, Tivoli Fountain, 1300 Capitol Way S. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- July 6, Bellingham, 2:00 p.m. Honoring the Victims of Lac-Megantic, https://www.facebook.com/events/652517814832742/, Taylor Street Dock, Boulevard Park. Contact email@example.com. Take a group photo on the dock near the bathrooms, over the tracks, with a memorial which will include 47 silhouettes with stories of Lac-Megantic victims. The memorial will be publicly installed later.
- July 10, Bellingham, 7:00 p.m. planning meeting for BP North Pier DEIS Hearing and Action, Sustainable Living Center, 2309 Meridian St. Contact Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-460-7397. Learn how to comment during the July 16 public hearing conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the NEPA DEIS and hear about the rally planned before the hearing.
- July 3-6, Portland, 10:00 a.m. No Oil Trains Portland will message outside the Waterfront Blues Festival, including candlelight vigils on July 5th and 6th. For information about specific activities, contact Bonnie at 503-705-1943. Update 7/3/14: Meetup times have changed. For information, call Bonnie.
- July 8, Salem, 4:30 p.m. No Oil Trains in Salem, 12th Street Promenade next to the tracks, 12th St. and State Street. Contact email@example.com.
Message from the Citizens of Lac-Megantic:
"The people of Lac Megantic and its environs are well aware of the dangers of transporting North Dakota crude by rail. The tragedy that we have suffered is very well known.
"We strongly support the solidarity actions that will take place in many states in the United States and in Canadian provinces that will highlight the commemoration of the terrible tragedy that took place in Lac Megantic following the derailment of the MMA train 606 282.
"We hope that the communities that organize the resistance and the municipal councils of Vancouver, Spokane, Edmonds, Bellingham and other concerned cities will be understood and their fears be taken into consideration so that a moratorium will be imposed on such practices so that the health, well-being and security of the population and environment will be protected."
Traduction by Dan Leahy.
Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 5:07 am // Dick ConoboyLast Thursday, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the docketing of the spot rezone of 801 Samish from Residential Single to Commerical Planned (non-retail)
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 10:26 am // John ServaisWe post a disturbing report of a personal encounter along Samish Way, with the permission of John Stark, who experienced it.
2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2014
Tue, Sep 09, 2014, 8:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley and John share the short list of who might replace Cathy Lehman on the Bellingham city council on January 5.
8 comments; last on Sep 10, 2014
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 11:48 am // Terry WechslerWhile the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars defining risks of crude by rail, Skagit County finds no significant adverse impacts of a crude-by-rail proposal.
1 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm // Guest writerPatrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.
2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 4:54 pm // Terry WechslerNot content with causing massive inconvenience, BNSF is now literally dumping on county residents.
10 comments; last on Aug 26, 2014
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm // Guest writerJudith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.
1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 7:12 am // Terry WechslerA massive upgrade of the Cascade [rail] Corridor has left residents stranded and the sheriff asking Washington, DC, to intervene.
7 comments; last on Sep 02, 2014
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm // Guest writerSandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.
4 comments; last on Aug 18, 2014
Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 10:52 am // Riley SweeneySome Context for the Primary Results
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm // John ServaisBellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.
7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014
Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 10:10 am // John ServaisUpdated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.
5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 8:00 am // Dick ConoboyCouncilmember Murphy's proposal is based on a complaint-based rental ordinance from Tacoma, demonstrated to do little for the health and safety of tenants.
11 comments; last on Sep 21, 2014
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am // Terry WechslerCarefully planned actions are rolling across the state to make the point that it's not OK to expose us to risks associated with CBR.
7 comments; last on Aug 04, 2014
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am // Riley SweeneyNorthwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!
9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 7:52 am // Dick ConoboyIn contravention of the Bellingham Municipal Code, the City Council will consider on 4 August a last minute docketing request that ignores the Planning Commission and Samish Neighborhood.
1 comments; last on Jul 30, 2014
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:47 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mike Rostron explains how Bellingham city planners played loose and illegal with planning processes.
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 pm // John ServaisSunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.
2 comments; last on Jul 23, 2014
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 5:30 am // Guest writerLandlords are so caught up opposing a licensing and inspection ordinance, they cannot see the upside for them in ridding the city of bad rentals.
19 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 1:24 pm // Guest writerJudith Green explains how the Bellingham Planning Department is trying to cram their plan onto a neighborhood.
5 comments; last on Jul 21, 2014
Sun, Jul 13, 2014, 2:26 pm // Terry WechslerYears after BP completed its north dock, the Army Corps of Engineers released a draft EIS and it's really really stupid.
Tue, Jul 08, 2014, 8:20 am // Dick ConoboyThe city council "persuades" the city administration to withdraw a request for an intrusive police threat warning system
2 comments; last on Jul 08, 2014
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 6:54 am // Terry WechslerIt is time we stop allowing corporations to externalize the costs associated with their risky business practices, and demand more from our regulators who hold the keys to…
3 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am // Guest writerGuest writer Sandy Robson breaks the story of officials from Washington treated to a coal-promoting junket to Wyoming.
2 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014
Fri, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am // Guest writerFerndale's most famous landmark is frequently commented on and is often in the news. Here is their side of the story.
4 comments; last on Jul 07, 2014
Wed, Jul 02, 2014, 5:14 pm // Terry WechslerOn the anniversary of the Lac-Megantic disaster, communities throughout North America rally in solidarity to remember and protest wholly inadequate government response to crude-by-rail's risks.
4 comments; last on Jul 12, 2014
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm // Guest writerIn the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.
11 comments; last on Jul 01, 2014
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 10:24 am // Dick ConoboyThe Bellingham Police Department wants to purchase "threat assessment" software with federal monies. Citizen comments were vehement and negative. City Council confused.
5 comments; last on Jul 03, 2014
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 10:18 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the failings of a bad policy framework are revealed
1 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 7:53 am // Dick ConoboyThe possession and use of consumer fireworks are no longer permitted within the city limits.
1 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am // John ServaisWyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.
7 comments; last on Jun 20, 2014
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am // John ServaisBellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.
3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
Fri, Jun 06, 2014, 2:07 pm // Terry WechslerPart 2: Following Ken Oplinger to California, and Home Again
4 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am // Guest writerA Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.
2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm // Guest writerA perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.
22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014
Tue, May 27, 2014, 1:23 am // Wendy HarrisWhy was so little consideration given to the concept of developing the waterfront for eco-tourism?
5 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
Mon, May 26, 2014, 7:51 pm // Wendy HarrisCity park improvements have implications on the local and global scale.
2 comments; last on May 29, 2014
Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am // Guest writerWyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal
4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014
Sun, May 18, 2014, 11:57 pm // Wendy HarrisReckless rezones and far-fetched explanations result in more slaughterhouses and meat packing plants
3 comments; last on May 20, 2014
Sat, May 17, 2014, 2:34 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates
2 comments; last on May 21, 2014
Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong
1 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Sun, May 11, 2014, 2:20 pm // Terry WechslerPart 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking
3 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 10:02 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie for Whatcom County - that would be Riley Sweeney - has Overstreet not running for reelection in the 42nd.
1 comments; last on May 13, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 6:10 am // Terry WechslerWhy Washington must step in and assume lead agency status in Skagit County for the Shell crude by rail proposal.
6 comments; last on Jun 21, 2014
Tue, May 06, 2014, 5:52 pm // Riley SweeneyThe value of a Precinct Committee Officer . . .
1 comments; last on May 07, 2014
Mon, May 05, 2014, 3:34 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the gyrations of the bid for widespread county slaughter are exposed.
2 comments; last on May 07, 2014
Thu, May 01, 2014, 10:21 pm // Guest writerMove to Amend is a national movement to amend the U.S. Constitution and define persons as people and speech as not money.
7 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 8:20 am // John ServaisRiley posted this morning that Seth Fleetwood has decided to challenge Doug Ericksen for state senate in the 42nd District.
1 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 6:28 am // Dick ConoboyEvery Bellingham Planning Commission member has ties to development or development-related businesses.
4 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
4 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 2:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
12 comments; last on Jun 30, 2014
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 10:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 9:07 am // Riley SweeneyCity pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 4:29 pm // Guest writerBy Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods
2 comments; last on Apr 07, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
5 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 1:27 pm // Wendy HarrisPlease help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 2:23 am // Wendy HarrisThe public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 1:32 am // Wendy HarrisOn March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.
2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014
Election InfoCandidate Filings
Primary election results
Coal, Oil & TrainsCommunity Wise Bellingham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut Community Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Police Activity
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph