I attended the recent GPT scoping meeting in Ferndale. The early speakers were all in favor of the terminal, although I believe there were just as many, if not more, opponents there. Most of what I heard focused on jobs and a little on tax revenue. However, the permit for the port calls for 89 employees during phase one in 2016 and 213 full-time shift workers and 44 administrators on completion in 2026. I believe that any benefit from jobs or taxes would be more than lost by the many negative effects of the terminal. These include, but are not limited to:
The impact of the coal trains, not only in this area, but all up and down the coast. With 18 additional trains every day (a 1.5-mile train every hour), traffic and emergency vehicles would be greatly affected. The waterfront would be cut off. BNSF Railway estimates that 500 pounds of dust would be lost from every car en route to the port. (Ed. Note: In a guide for freight customers, BNSF estimated 500 lbs. up to a ton coal may be lost from each car.)
The dust and diesel exhaust plus the noise would certainly affect our health. The extra trains would no doubt need upgrades to the tracks and probably overpasses on the roads, which would be mainly funded by taxpayers.
GPT plans to use water from the Nooksack River to control dust at the terminal. This could very well affect the quantity of water available for drinking and irrigation during the summer. I believe that it would be impossible to completely control the dust, especially during our very windy periods, and the dust could easily spread as far as Birch Bay.
Huge ships (too big to go through the Panama Canal) would come into the port every day, with more pollution from the fuel and bilge water. Our sea life and recreational activities would be threatened.
There is a high risk of accidents involving both the trains and ships.
Let’s not trade our beautiful area for 257 permanent jobs.
In the most shameful media blitz, the public process of commenting on significant and adverse impacts in the scoping process on GPT was sabotaged in Ferndale on Thursday.
Coal proponents admit to paying day labor to hold places in line (inlander.com/spokane/blog-7192-day-laborers-being-used-as-pro-coal-placeholders-for-todays-public-hearing.html).
Hundreds of troubled local people, in the majority by the start of the hearing, were unable to make appropriate scoping comments.
If you read between the lines on the highly paid “spin doctor” behind this travesty (paid for by SSA Marine), Smith and Stark (smithandstark.com), it appears to me that they claim they can dupe the necessary power brokers, puppeteer the media, manipulate any data to support corporate interests and stage-manage factions to serve as corporate patsies.
Check for yourself. Is this democracy or corporate manipulation?
Too many residents who support the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) have the mistaken idea that its coal stockpiles would be “completely covered.” In fact, GPT’s official application states that GPT’s entire 80 acres (five, 1/2 mile long, 60 feet high) of coal stockpiles would be “uncovered.”
To prevent spontaneous combustion and to reduce coal dust emissions, coal stockpiles would be sprayed with water. GPT proposes to use 1.9 billion gallons of water per year, 5.3 million gallons per day on average. Putting that into perspective, GPT’s daily water use would be more than all of Ferndale’s or half of Bellingham’s. GPT would use nearly one third of the amount of water Public Utility District 1 currently supplies to six industrial and 50 irrigation customers in the Cherry Point area.
Neither spraying these huge quantities of water nor any other technique or combination of techniques prevents massive amounts of coal dust from escaping from uncovered coal stockpiles. More than three million pounds of coal dust per year would likely escape from GPT’s uncovered coal stockpiles, and it would blow more than five miles in every direction – where thousands of us live and thousands more come to work and to vacation. Two hundred and five Whatcom County physicians say there is no safe level of exposure to the toxins in coal dust.
Imagine the adverse impacts of accumulated coal dust emissions on our health, our farms, our beaches and our present businesses. GPT’s uncovered coal stockpiles would be one mile from BP Cherry Point Refinery’s towering structures. Accumulating coal dust on sensors, gauges, valves, switches, etc. would increase safety concerns for BP’s operations and for BP’s 850 employees. And imagine the impacts of the proposed GPT drawing 5.3 million gallons of water per day from our limited local water resources.
Provided accurate information, I believe people generally arrive at reasonable decisions for themselves and their families. Let’s base our opinions of the proposed GPT on facts.
Now that Christmas is almost upon us, I think the best Christmas gift to the city and its citizens would be good news regarding restoring our historic train depot and having regular Amtrak service here in our town.
I have to think all the city’s and most merchants’ monetary problems would fade away.
Blaine would save one of its last historic buildings and restore a much needed passenger service for our community, as in better days long ago.
Folks can read lots of information regarding all stories, etc. on our website: blainestation.com
Post your own thoughts and keep sending those letters to our local council and editor sections of your local paper.
Message from Santa:
Ho! Ho! Ho! Thank you to all the kids and parents who came out to visit at Holiday Harbor Lights (you too, Chris) and thanks to my friends Bruce Mosher, Nils Dahlgren, Mike Dahl and Dan Persse as well the crew at the city of Blaine, Pizza Factory, NW Park & Recreation, Stafholt Good Samaritan, Tutor Doctor, Sterling Bank, chamber of commerce and many Blaine businesses. Congratulations to Steamers Espresso for the best-decorated tree. I liked the lighted boats in the harbor as well. See you all next year!
On Dasher! On Dancer!
U.S. citizen drivers, speeders, shoppers and voters: That B.C. plated vehicle that zooms by you may be one of the 100,000 U.S. citizens living in B.C. (mainly in the Vancouver area). Left lane slow drivers and speeding I am told by my police friends is not “catching.” Regardless of nationality, unsafe driving is not just restricted to B.C. plated vehicles.
When you see the B.C. plated car parking at Costco (perhaps owned by a U.S. citizen living in Canada) here is what to do: roll down your window and holler, “Welcome, Canuck!” If the answer comes back, “Thanks, mate,” or “Thanks, Yank,” you know they are Canadian. If the answer comes back, “What the hell is a Canuck, huh?” you know it’s an American living in Canada. Then you can decide whether to say, “Get the hell out of my country.” That’s a hard call. How can you say that to a fellow American? More than one million Americans live in Canada.
In the recent U.S. presidential election more than 90 percent voted, and guess how most voted? Well, most are enrolled in the government of Canada universal health plan, which is very affordable. Preventative medicine, free walk-in medical clinics open seven days a week and nearly free medications have provided Canadians and other non-Canadian citizens living in Canada with the second longest longevity in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates compared to the U.S. at #26.
H.M. Jay James