Our proposed plan is to build a rail spur on our property with equipment to pump oil from rail cars into the refinery. Even though the design of this project is inconsistent with the values of the region and will harm the environment, we believe it will greatly increase our corporate profits. We are well aware that this proposed project will have adverse impacts on the fauna and flora in Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve, Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve, the Skagit River, wetlands, and landscapes along the rail route. Hell, this project could destroy the March Point heronry (the largest in the Western US). And we all know how these oil trains can dramatically explode and spill when derailments happen. But we are committed to working with state, local, and federal agencies to try and convince folks that none of these negative impacts and repercussions will occur so that we may be authorized to proceed.
All other refineries in Washington State were authorized to build and operate similar rail unloading facilities by avoiding any real public or official scrutiny of all the known negative impacts and risks, and openly violating the Federal Magnuson Amendment of 1977. And we would like to be able to get away with this as well.
Construction of the project will generate some new jobs at the refinery. But we won’t promise to make them union jobs. Please consider us a “good neighbor” despite the fact that ongoing operation of our refinery is a major cause for the high incidence of cancer in neighboring communities and that the adjacent waters are highly polluted. Or that our refinery is also one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases in our State. After all, what is good for people and planet is not necessarily good for our bottom-line.
We commit to:
- Increase the number of unit oil trains endangering Washington State communities and ecosystems along the tracks by 6 per week so as to have access to cheaper crude..
- Use rail cars built to the still very unsafe new standards
- Continued use of the decades old unsafe rail tracks and bridges, including the Swinomish Channel Swinging Bridge the Skagit River Railroad Bridge.
- Disrespect a 1991 easement agreement between the Swinomish Tribe and BNSF limiting the number of trains passing through the reservation to one loaded train per day with no more than 25 tank cars in each.
- Clear 32 acres of wetlands and saltwater marshes and negatively affect the wildlife that depend on them.
- Continue being “high priority violators” of state and federal public health and safety laws.
- Employ non-unionized workers whenever we can get away with it so as to be able to retaliate against and intimidate workers who report on safety hazards and violations.
- Continue using our money and power to influence local and state politicians and regulatory departments.
"The Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. I understand why people have a passion for the area and why they’re so devoted to keeping it pristine.”
– Kim Ort, the refinery’s Health, Safety, Security and Environmental manager.
The Shell Puget Sound Refinery is more than an oil refinery, for generations we’ve been polluting the local environment and making people in the community sick. Here are just some of the ways that Shell has been harming Skagit County:
Threatening Traditional Life:
- March Point, was annexed from the Swinomish Reservation by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1873.
- The Swinomish Tribe is currently suing rail company BNSF to prevent oil trains bound for March Point refineries like Shell from transiting through their reservation.
- The Department of Ecology has documented high rates of toxins in shellfish harvested from sites around the refineries which particularly impacts native peoples who consume large amounts of these traditional foods.
Poisoning Skagit County:
- Skagit County has the third highest rate of cancer in Washington State. and a 41% higher rate of bladder cancer.
- Shell’s refinery is the second most fined Clean Air Act violator in the Northwest and is classified as a high-priority violator by the EPA.
- Last year accidental air emissions from the refinery during a scheduled maintenence sickened many neighbors for several days including two Swinomish Tribal member who were hospitalized.
Endangering Workers and the Community:
- Last year the union representing Shell’s refinery workers went on strike to demand improvements to unsafe working conditions like those that led to the deaths of 7 people in an explosion at the neighboring Tesoro refinery in 2010. Shell proudly spearheaded effforts to dismiss the workers concerns both in Skagit County and around the country, Workers returned to the job with only some of their concerns addressed.
- It is likely that workers offloading oil-trains will be contractors and not unionized labor, making it easier for Shell to dismiss safety concerns and penalize workers for reporting them.
- In 2014 an oil-train bound for a Washington refinery derailed in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. This narrowly avoided catastrophe highlights the risks that this proposal poses to hundreds of thousands of people in Washington’s Blast Zone.