Company Plans Pipeline in Juan de Fuca Strait; Environmentalists See Fight
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ A Canadian oil pipeline company said Tuesday it will seek to build a pipeline under the environmentally sensitive waters of Puget Sound to keep tanker traffic out of the narrow, rocky channels.
Trans Mountain Pipe Line Co. Ltd. revived an idea rejected a decade ago by environmentalists and the state after a bitter fight. Friends of the Earth Director Dave Ortman said the new proposal likely will draw the same powerful opposition.
The announcement, made in Vancouver, British Columbia, followed by hours the release of a regional oil-spill task force report that recommends serious consideration of an offshore terminal and pipeline to reduce the risk of oil spills in Puget Sound.
Trans Mountain proposes building a $500 million offshore terminal and connecting pipeline at Low Point, which is about 12 miles west of Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. The company said the terminal would service 350 tankers and barges annually, allowing them to unload there instead of entering the Rosario Strait and the Strait of Georgia.
The terminal also could be used to load tankers with crude oil piped from Canada. That oil currently is hauled by tanker from Vancouver, the company said.
A new pipeline from the terminal would connect with existing pipelines to refineries in northern Puget Sound and also with existing pipeline at Burlington, Wash., the company said. The pipeline would run underwater for part of its route.
Trans Mountain first proposed an offshore terminal near Low Point in 1981 as part of a proposal to transport Alaska crude oil to Midwestern states. The plan finally was killed as environmentally unfeasible. Trans Mountain will use much of its earlier environmental analysis to support its new endeaver, spokesman Dick Stokes said.
Ortman, a veteran of the earlier environmental fight, said environmentalists would fight the new proposal, too. ″It’s time to think about not accommodating the oil industry in Puget Sound either by pipeline or tanker,″ he said.
But a regional task force said that given increasing traffic of crude oil in the sound, a solid way to reduce the risk of spills may be to move crude oil by pipeline instead of tankers.