Coal Export

Charlotte Persons oral testimony at the Longview coal export hearing.

I am Charlotte Persons, a resident of this area for over 20 years, and president of Willapa Hills Audubon Society.  Willapa Hills Audubon Society is concerned about the health of the estuary habitat of the Columbia River—for wildlife AND humans:

We ask that that the EIS carefully consider three aspects of protecting the habitat that we live in:

(1)   The health of residents, especially in areas close to the proposed site.  While winds will blow coal dust from the coal terminal and the trains that supply it throughout our area, people living and working in the Highlands and Mint Farm areas will be most critically affected.  Residents of existing coal terminals in our region, in British Columbia and Alaska, regularly complain of the black dust that coats their houses and boats.  Exposure to coal dust has been linked to increases in chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.  The proposed Millennium terminal is only slightly more than a mile from homes and schools in Longview. We ask that the EIS carefully examine these potential health impacts.


(2)   Detrimental effects on the Columbia River.  The EIS should consider the effects of development of this port facility, such as the sharp increase in ship traffic and related ballast intake and discharge and the threat of introducing invasive species.  In addition to these concerns, for this terminal there is the danger of direct discharge of spilled coal and blown coal dust into the water. The coal and dust can harm marine and estuary life, especially as it accumulates over time.  Surfactants sprayed on coal to keep down coal dust have also been shown to be detrimental.   We fear the effects of adding another kind of pollution into our river, pollution that will affect all wildlife and birds, but especially endangered salmon.

(3)   The effects of pollution that will result when the exported coal is burned.  Washington state has made strides towards reducing our contribution to greenhouse gases by requiring renewable power generation and phasing out our last coal-burning power plant in Centralia.  Those steps will be reversed and obliterated if the proposed terminal exports coal to China and other Asian countries.  In addition, our state’s shellfish economy is already being affected by ocean acidification from excess carbon absorbed into the ocean.  Finally, when coal is burned in Asia, prevailing winds bring the mercury byproduct to our own shores.  The EIS for the proposed coal terminal in Bellingham will include considering the effects of burning the coal exported through that terminal; the proposed coal terminal in Longview deserves the same consideration.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the scope of this EIS

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