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Report: Oil Spill On Columbia River Could Cause $170M In Damages

May 31, 2016

A new report finds an oil tanker grounding on the Columbia River could cost more than $170 million dollars in damages. Estimates show the oil tanker could spill 8 million gallons of Bakken crude oil.

The report commissioned by the Washington Attorney General's Office looks at possible accident scenarios linked to the proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

“We concluded that oil spilled near Vancouver would reach Longview (approximately 40 miles downstream) in one day, then travel slowly through the estuary, reaching the mouth after an additional four days,” the report states.

The terminal would be the largest of its type the country. It would move crude oil from North Dakota and Montana by trains onto ships bound for West coast ports.

A train derailment could spill could nearly 850,000 gallons of crude, the report found.

Any potential oil spill would damage the environmental health of salmon and other fisheries on the Columbia River. The damage to recreational fisheries could be in the tens of millions of dollars, according to the report.

The report found the worst place for a train derailment would be above Bonneville Dam. That’s because the turbines would mix the crude oil into the river water killing more fish and wildlife.

The backers of the oil terminal said in a statement that it wasn’t appropriate to comment on a report they hadn’t reviewed, noting that it’s one of many being filed with the state as part of the permitting process.

“It would be inappropriate to draw conclusions from one report when there will be a large body of information presented at that point in time on this and many other subjects,” said Tina Barbee, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver Energy Project.

The oil terminal is currently working its way through Washington state’s permitting process.


File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland railyard.
Tony Schick/OPB

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