A battle is brewing between local residents, environmentalists, and a natural gas company that wants to site a pipeline and storage terminal on the Columbia River near Puget Island, Washington and Bradwood, Oregon. Leading the charge to stop this disaster in the making is Wahkiakum Friends of the River, a grassroots organization co-chaired by Judy Bright (my mother). The Oregonian reports:
It (the pipeline and storage terminal) could get the go-ahead as early as this time next year, depending on how its federal application proceeds, said Gary Coppedge, Northern Star's vice president of permitting and development.
Ships would deliver natural gas, super-cooled to liquid form, about every three days. The terminal would have the capacity to hold 7 billion cubic feet of liquid natural gas -- enough to fill two tanks roughly 12 stories tall.
After vaporizers heat the liquid back to gas, the terminal could send up to 1 billion cubic feet of gas daily through its proposed pipeline. A third tank may be added in the future. The pipeline would connect to the main supply line that runs along the Interstate 5 corridor.
But grass-roots critics have lined up against the proposals. Local groups have sponsored guest speakers to discuss the hazards of liquid natural gas, passed out bumper stickers, and distributed lawn signs and posters.
Wahkiakum Friends of the River was formed specifically to fight the Bradwood project. Opponents hope to persuade federal officials at Thursday's meeting that the lower Columbia River isn't an appropriate place for a terminal, said Judy Bright, co-chairwoman of the group.
Residents of Puget Island in Washington would be most directly affected by the terminal, Bright said. They fear it will interrupt fishing and boating and put the area at higher risk of a terrorist attack.
But more importantly, she said, the area has almost no emergency resources in the event of an accident. Washington's Wahkiakum County has no hospital, she noted.
"All emergency responders are volunteers," she said. "Our health department has a staff of four people. On Puget Island, there are two ways out -- the ferry, which lands very close to Bradwood on the Oregon side, and a narrow bridge. Even if there were time to evacuate the island, it would be limited and very slow. But the reality is, if there was an accident, there wouldn't be time to evacuate anyway."
The Thursday meeting mentioned in the article will be where federal agencies will hear plans from Northern Star and concerns from residents of the area. Visit Wahkiakum Friends of the River to learn more.
Related Link: Columbia River Vision has additional information on their site.