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Originally published Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 9:29 PM

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Study says three terminal projects would increase risk of oil spills

If three proposed marine terminals on the Salish Sea are built, the risk of a high-volume oil spill could rise an estimated 68 percent over 2010, according to a study released by the Puget Sound Partnership.


The Associated Press

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The potential risk of an oil spill is likely to spike if three marine terminals are completed, bringing increased oil-tanker and other vessel traffic through the greater Puget Sound region, according to a new study released by the Puget Sound Partnership.

The vessel-traffic study measures the changing levels of risk for the Salish Sea if the Trans Mountain pipeline is expanded to bring more crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to the Vancouver, B.C., area. The study also takes into account proposed coal-export terminals at Cherry Point, Whatcom County; Alberta; and Delta, British Columbia.

If completed, the projects together would increase the time large ships and oil barges are operating on waters by 25 percent, and the potential for high-volume oil spills could rise to an estimated 68 percent over 2010, the base year studied, the study says. The frequency of accidents such as collisions and groundings could rise by 18 percent, it adds.

But the study also concluded that if a number of measures are taken to reduce those risks — such as lower vessel speeds, tug escorts or vessel inspections — they could cut down on accidents.

The study was conducted for the state by George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth universities. It measures the changing potential risk as three developments, currently in the permit phase, come on line.



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