Department of Ecology, State of Washington, July 31, 2013
SEATTLE – An environmental review of proposed bulk cargo and railroad spur projects at Cherry Point in Whatcom County will closely study their direct effects at the site and evaluate a broad range of indirect and cumulative impacts likely to occur within and beyond Washington.
Whatcom County, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) – known together as the co-leads – are producing a joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal and BNSF Railway (BNSF) Custer Spur track expansion.
The Gateway Pacific Terminal – proposed by Pacific International Terminals – would provide storage and handling of exported dry bulk commodities, including coal, grain, iron ore, salts and alumina. To support the Gateway Pacific Terminal and other industries at Cherry Point, BNSF proposes to add rail facilities and install a second track along its 6-mile branch line.
At full capacity, the shipping terminal would export 54 million metric tons per year of bulk commodities – including up to 48 million metric tons per year of coal – and could generate 18 train trips (9 round trips) per day and more than 18 deep-draft “Capesize” vessel trips per week.
Whatcom County and Ecology must follow the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and the Corps must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The joint process enables the co-lead agencies to avoid duplication when the two laws overlap and to meet each statute’s separate requirements.