Save Birch Bay creates binder to educate community on GPT project

Published on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 by Nathan Dalla Santa

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As the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project moves into the state-mandated, year-long environmental impact study (EIS) stage of the review process, many in the area are still wondering exactly what the project entails and what it means for surrounding communities if approved. 

One activist group, Save Birch Bay, has taken it upon themselves to compile an informational book concerning the proposed GPT and has made it available to the general public. 

A combination of commentary and primary source documents, the notebook highlights issues the group believes are of significance to the public, such as potential environmental health issues associated with the project.

“It is our feeling that there is a lot of information that is unknown to the public and the only way to know the details is to weed through a ton of information,” said Sandy Robson, a representative for Save Birch Bay. “We wanted to take that information, after researching it fully, and get it out to the people in a way that isn’t too cumbersome.”

SSA Marine, a Bellingham-based port management company proposed the terminal project in 2011. If built, the GPT site would be one of the largest exporters of coal in North America, handling around 48 million metric tons of coal per year. In terms of weight, that would be like shipping 48,000 adult male African bush elephants out of Cherry Point every day.

The 350-acre terminal would be serviced by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, and would require upgrades to the existing tracks to accommodate the higher volume.

The notebook is the product of months of work by around half a dozen volunteers, Robson said. 

Robson hopes people will use the notebook to learn more about the impacts the terminal would have on the local community, both positive and negative, she said. Robson believes that after learning more about the potential impacts on local water quality, environmental health and other issues, citizens will be inspired to speak out against the proposal during the 30-day public forum following the project’s environmental impact statement in 2015.

“You can’t learn about all the negative ramifications for our community and for the native tribes from reading SSA advertisements or listening to local politicians,” Robson said. “The [comment period] following the EIS is one of the few chances we have to make our voices heard.”

Residents can find a copy of the notebook at the Ferndale office of public records as well as the Ferndale and Blaine public libraries.

For more information about GPT, visit gatewaypacificterminal.com.