CLATSKANIE, Ore. (AP) - Regulators have proposed a $117,000 fine for an oil train terminal near Clatskanie that the state says shipped more crude oil than permitted.
However, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality stopped short of requiring the operator, Massachusetts-based Global Partners LP, to halt oil trains through Portland and rural Columbia River communities until it has the correct permit to run its facility.
The terminal known as the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery moved 300 million gallons last year, surpassing its permitted amount of 50 million gallons, the agency said.
“They definitely have the resources to get the permit and should’ve done it on time,” Jenny Root, a DEQ environmental law specialist, told The Oregonian newspaper (http://is.gd/Yc0QWS). “It’s a larger penalty than what we normally do.”
Global Partners had faced a maximum $25,000 a day fine. The state’s proposed penalty amounts to $4,500 a week.
Global Partners contested the determination and plans to appeal.
“The operations at Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery are in full compliance with state environmental regulations,” said Ed Faneuil, Global’s attorney. “We believe the DEQ’s findings are not accurate.”
The terminal began as an ethanol fuel facility and went out of business in 2009.
The DEQ later approved a permit change that allowed it to annually move crude oil instead of ethanol from trains onto barges. Without notice, crude started moving through the communities of Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier in late 2012.
Brett VandenHuevel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said the environmental group would have alerted the public and government officials about the oil terminal and its risks - if it had known about the project at the time.
“I find it deeply disturbing that DEQ knew about this, didn’t take action sooner and didn’t inform the public,” VandenHuevel said. “To skirt that whole process is bad public policy and bad government.”
The terminal is now seeking an air pollution permit that would allow it to move 1.8 billion gallons of oil annually, or about 50 trains a month.
A public hearing has been scheduled for April 3 in Clatskanie.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com