Oil-by-rail terminal proposed for Washington state

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014
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SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. Development Group is seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

The increase in oil shipments by rail have raised concerns about public safety, the potential for oil spills and the ability of local communities to respond to accidents.

About 17 million barrels of oil were shipped across Washington state last year — mostly to refineries in Anacortes and Cherry Point near Bellingham. That number is expected to triple this year, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chaired a congressional hearing Wednesday on oil shipments by train.

"We need to have the right policies in place to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies when they do happen," Murray said at the hearing.

Since the boom in oil production began in 2008, there have been at least four major accidents involving trains carrying crude from the Bakken region. In July, a train derailed, killing 47 people and torching a large section of downtown Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Charla Skaggs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Development, said the company has a proven safety record and is committed to safety on the project at Grays Harbor.

The Texas-based U.S. Development has developed over a dozen bulk liquid facilities in the U.S., and "they have an exemplary safety record," Skaggs said. "They've operated very safe facilities for years, and that's their commitment at Grays Harbor."

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