Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0001639
Received: 10/26/2013 3:54:00 PM
Commenter: Keith Brown and Teresa Robbins Brown
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
From:Keith Brown & Teresa Robbins <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent:Saturday, October 26, 2013 3:54 PM To:email@example.com Subject:Docket number 2013-19738: Comment on scope of EIS for Millennium Bulk Terminals Longview LLC Coal Export Terminal
Oct 26, 2013
US Army Corps of Engineers, Cowlitz County, Washington Department of Ecology WA
Dear Washington Department of Ecology,
Please accept these scoping comments for the environmental impact statement for the Millennium Bulk Terminal (MBTL) proposal for Longview, WA.
Keith Brown and Teresa Robbins 211 Malfait Tracts Rd Washougal, WA 98671 (360) 837-1089
To: Millennium EIS Co-Lead Agencies Washington State Department of Ecology Cowlitz County Washington US Army Corps of Engineers
Re:Millennium EIS Scoping October 26, 2013
My wife and I live in Skamania County in the heart of the incredible Columbia River Gorge and its National Scenic Area, rated #6 in the world for sustainable beauty destinations by National Geographic Traveler.
This scoping process must take into account the impact of the coal trains during transport through this exceptional area. It needs to include the likelihood of increased fires as a direct result of coal deposits along the rails and additional train traffic. As former volunteer firefighters and a fire commissioner during the past 10 years, we have fought first-hand, fires ignited by rail traffic in the Cape Horn region of the National Scenic Area. Coal is highly combustible and there are documented cases of coal train cars that have spontaneously ignited. On a dry day with high east or west winds that frequent this area, a fire could easily sweep out of control and up the slopes of Cape Horn destroying homes, lives, and wildlife habitat.
There are numerous homes in the West End of Skamania County that will be totally cut off from Emergency Response services as the 120 to 150 car coal trains travel through on an incessant basis. As former EMT's, we know this 15 to 20 minute delay for each train can literally be the difference between life and death. An additional 16 or more trains would block any access for 2.5 to 3 additional hours a day for just this Millennium proposal! The cumulative impacts on the National Scenic Area of the rail traffic for the Millennium proposal, plus the proposed Cherry Point Coal Terminal (Bellevue), plus the proposed Tesoro Oil Terminal (Vancouver) totaling 42 additional trains moving through the gorge daily, at least half carrying toxic and highly combustible fuels must be included and fully evaluated as a part of the scope of this EIS.
A neighbor of ours driving along SR14, narrowly escaped being crushed by a semi-truck when its driver reacted instinctively to large chunks of coal pummeling his windshield blown off a passing coal train during a wind gust. A full investigation of how many increased accidents and fatalities would likely occur as a result of this proposed increase in coal transport, needs to be conducted as a part of the scoping. The State of Washington has invested significantly in enhancing safety along SR14. It would be blatantly irresponsible for the Washington State Department of Ecology to blindly approve a project and the resulting transport for the same, which has the real potential of degrading safety along portions of SR14.
We have been intricately involved in developing the Cape Horn Trail and Recreation area for the past 8 years. This excessive train traffic will dramatically increase noise, the likelihood of a train derailment due to build-up of coal on the tracks, and result in significant and toxic degradation to what has been a pristine and treasured environment and experience.
Mounds of coal are already deposited along the rail line immediately below the Cape Horn Trail. Given the amount of coal currently present with only one to two (we've also heard two to four) coal trains traveling through a day, we can't even fathom the truly devastating impact inflicted from an additional 17 fully loaded trains a day (eight for Millennium, nine for Cherry Point) day after day, month after month, year after year. Fully investigate, as part of this scoping process, the contamination that will certainly result from coal washing into the Columbia River, its tributaries and its many wildlife refuges. Do not allow this scenic treasure to be destroyed.
Skamania county's economic health and future depends heavily on the draw this area has for tourists because of the National Scenic Area and the recreational opportunities that exist here. For example, 72% of all retail sales in Skamania County come from tourists. The additional coal trains will cut Stevenson off from their waterfront area, discouraging tourists, the docking of passenger ships and the holding of special events. The negative economic impact on and potential loss of jobs within gorge communities must be fully considered during this scoping process. The few jobs created in Longview Millennium proposed project will certainly be off-set by jobs and tourist income lost as a result of coal contamination and excessive traffic through out the route.
Perhaps most importantly, are the proven health impacts experienced from coal dust and diesel emission residues... not only from immediate exposure, but also the air-borne mercury and pollution from the burning of coal in Asia that will ride the air currents to be re-deposited across the Northwest. Gorge communities are situated along this rail line...the negative health impacts will be significant and need to be fully vetted in this scoping process.
Dr. Keith Brown & Teresa Robbins 211 Malfait Tracts Rd Washougal, WA 98671-7822 (360) 837-1089