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Latest: Washington state denies oil-by-rail terminal

Citing risks, Gov. Inslee rejects plans for the nation’s largest oil terminal.


Between 2008 and 2013, the amount of crude oil shipped by rail from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield increased almost twentyfold. About 19 oil trains go through Washington state each week; each can be more than a mile long and weigh up to 15,000 tons. Since 2008, at least 10 have derailed in the U.S. and Canada, spilling crude, sparking fires, and causing injuries and deaths (“Trains carrying oil raise tough questions in Northwest,” HCN, 11/24/14).


In late January, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, D, rejected plans for the nation’s largest crude-by-rail terminal, citing earthquake risks and the dangers of a spill, fire or explosion. The facility at the Port of Vancouver, which environmentalists and tribal groups had fought for years, would have transferred 360,000 barrels of crude daily from trains to barges. Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s executive director, called the decision a “historic victory.” The companies involved, Andeavor and Savage, can appeal until the end of February.