State Denies Key Water Quality Permit for Longview Coal Project
Largest coal export terminal in North America not moving forward
Longview, Washington – The Washington Department of Ecology denied a necessary water quality permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility in Longview today, citing the project’s negative impacts on climate, clean air and water. Absent a successful legal challenge to the decision, the denial renders the project formally dead. The decision can be found here: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/fed-permit/pdf/201001225WQC15417.pdf
If built, Millennium would have been the largest coal export facility in North America, sending up to 44 million tons of Powder River and Uinta Basin coal per year to Asian markets that are quickly turning away from coal-fired power. The state’s own analysis, found that the climate pollution from this project would be equivalent to adding 8 million cars to the road at a time when our changing climate is contributing to catastrophic forest fires and stronger hurricanes. Millennium would also add up to sixteen trains a day traveling between the Powder River Basin and Longview, tying up traffic and impacting public safety response times in rail communities across the Pacific Northwest and contributing to higher rates of cancer in low-income communities, including Longview’s Highlands neighborhood.
Ecology’s environmental review documented significant impacts that the project would have on water quality and habitat in the Columbia River, including:
Coal dust discharge from 75 acres of uncovered coal piles and mile-and-a-half long coal trains. Significant accumulations of coal dust were found as far as a half-mile away from the Roberts Bank coal export terminal in British Columbia. A growing body of evidence suggests coal dust impacts the ecological function of salmon and other aquatic species.
1,680 additional trips per year by large vessels in the environmentally sensitive Columbia River estuary, causing large wakes that disrupt juvenile endangered salmon species. Federal and state governments, as well as Tribes, have invested billions of dollars to restore the Columbia River estuary over the years.
The removal of more than 24 acres of ecologically vital wetlands, to be permanently filled to construct rail lines.
The potential of coal train spills near or into the Columbia. Just last month a coal train derailed in Noxon, Montana, spilling 30 cars worth of coal near the Clark Fork River, which has overcome decades of mining pollution. To date, none of the responsible parties have fully cleaned up the coal.