• Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Background Information

    What is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)?

    An HIA is a process that helps evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented. An HIA can provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and minimize adverse health outcomes. It is not required by law and does not play a role in the decision to issue permits for a development project. An HIA is a public health tool that uses available technical and scientific information to help communities understand how plans, projects, and policies affect their health. An HIA can also make recommendations about how to maximize the likely health benefits and minimize the potential harms of a given project, plan, or policy. The HIA being prepared for the MBTL project will focus on neighborhoods near the MBTL project, as well as community facilities along the BNSF rail line in Cowlitz County.

    How does the HIA compare to the SEPA EIS?

    The SEPA EIS is required by law and analyzes potential impacts the MBTL project would have on environmental resources. The HIA evaluates effects the MBTL project would have on human health and quality of life in adjacent communities. Some analyses from the SEPA EIS may be used to inform the HIA—for example, by providing information about air quality, noise and vibration, and rail safety.

    Who is preparing the HIA?

    Cowlitz County’s Building and Planning Department, with assistance from the Cowlitz County Health and Human Services Department and the Washington State Department of Health, will convene a Steering Committee made up of community members. The Steering Committee will identify what aspects of health should be addressed in the HIA. Experts in environmental health from the Washington State Department of Health will conduct the analysis and share results with the Steering Committee for their input. The Steering Committee will decide when the HIA is ready to be released to the public.

    What is the HIA process?

    There are six stages in a HIA process.²

    1. Screening: (Complete)

    Determine whether an HIA would add value to the decision-making process.

    2. Scoping: (Complete)

    Establish the team responsible for conducting the HIA and define roles.

    Determine which potential health impacts to evaluate, methods for analysis, and a work plan.

    Develop a stakeholder engagement plan.

    3. Assessment:

    Provide a profile of existing baseline health conditions and vulnerabilities.

    Evaluate potential health impacts, including direction, severity, magnitude, and likelihood.

    4. Recommendations:

    Strategies to manage identified adverse health impacts, including mitigation and/or prevention of negative impacts as well as enhancement of health benefits and prioritization of recommendations.

    5. Reporting:

    Develop the HIA report.

    Communicate the findings and recommendations to public and stakeholders through publishing in a widely-available format.

    6. Monitoring and Evaluation:

    Impacts on decision-making processes and the final decision.

    Impacts of the decision on health determinants and outcomes.


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Six Stages of an HIA:

1. Screening - Complete

2. Scoping - Complete

3. Assessment

4. Recommendations

5. Reporting

6. Monitoring & Evaluation

Please join us for the next HIA Steering Committee Meeting

To be scheduled soon

Cowlitz County Training Center
(The Boat House)
1942 First Ave, Longview, WA 98632

  • Health Impact Assessment

    What is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

    An HIA is defined as a combination of procedures, methods and tools that systematically judges the potential, and sometimes unintended, effects of a proposed program, project, plan, or policy on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects within the population.

    Learn More

  • SEPA Final EIS

    SEPA Environmental Impact Statement

    SEPA requires agencies to take environmental factors into consideration before taking action on proposed projects. It’s important to emphasize that the environmental review process is not a decision, permit, or a yes or no on the project.

    Download the SEPA EIS

  • Proposed Action

    Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview (MBTL) LLC, based in Longview, Washington proposes to construct and operate a coal export terminal at the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County. The MBTL proposal is for a facility that would ultimately have the capacity to handle 44 million metric tons of coal annually.

    Learn More

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