Phillips 66 cancels plan to build new storage tanks following Friends of the San Juans lawsuit

Posted September 22, 2022 at 8:08 am by

Friends of the San Juans share news about their lat­est legal vic­to­ry in sup­port of South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales.

Fos­sil-fuel giant Phillips 66 sub­mit­ted a request to rescind their per­mit appli­ca­tion to con­struct two new stor­age tanks in Fer­n­dale, WA, fol­low­ing a mul­ti-year lit­i­ga­tion process ini­ti­at­ed by Friends of the San Juans. If the stor­age tanks had been built, they would have increased the Phillips 66 Fer­n­dale Refinery’s oper­a­tional stor­age capac­i­ty by almost ten percent.

In 2019, Phillips 66 applied for a per­mit to expand its fos­sil-fuel stor­age facil­i­ties in Fer­n­dale. But in its per­mit appli­ca­tion, Phillips 66 neglect­ed to include pre­dic­tions of how many addi­tion­al ves­sels would vis­it the refin­ery. Since sci­en­tif­ic data clear­ly shows that increas­es in ves­sel traf­fic result in greater impacts and risks to the crit­i­cal­ly endan­gered South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales, such pre­dic­tions are required in facil­i­ty expan­sion per­mits. On that basis, Friends, along with mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, object­ed to the per­mit. Sub­se­quent­ly, Friends of the San Juans pur­sued legal actions to ensure that pro­tec­tions for the South­ern Res­i­dents were upheld by What­com County.

In an email rescind­ing the per­mit appli­ca­tion, Phillips 66 stat­ed, “the com­pa­ny has decid­ed to can­cel the IMO Tank Project. This deci­sion was large­ly based on the pro­tract­ed per­mit­ting process and result­ing restric­tions imposed on the project.”

Phillips 66’s deci­sion is the direct result of its unsuc­cess­ful appeal of the Hear­ing Examiner’s deci­sion in Supe­ri­or Court and to the Court of Appeals. The restric­tions imposed on the project includ­ed an ongo­ing ves­sel traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing con­di­tion that would ensure that the new stor­age tanks would not increase ves­sel traf­fic, as Phillips 66 stat­ed in its per­mit appli­ca­tion. This con­test­ed per­mit con­di­tion was includ­ed to ensure that the project would not increase adverse ves­sel traf­fic impacts on the South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales and the Sal­ish Sea ecosys­tem. Phillips 66’s with­draw­al of the per­mit rais­es the ques­tion of whether Phillips 66 was being com­plete­ly hon­est in stat­ing — in the per­mit appli­ca­tion and through­out the lit­i­ga­tion process — that the two new stor­age tanks would not increase ves­sel traffic.

“The ongo­ing mon­i­tor­ing of ves­sel traf­fic should be a per­mit con­di­tion for all projects that could increase ves­sel traf­fic,” said Lov­el Pratt, Friends of the San Juans Marine Pro­tec­tion and Pol­i­cy Direc­tor. “This will ensure that the impacts relat­ed to increased ves­sel traf­fic are addressed.”

Friends of the San Juans con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor appli­ca­tions for projects that could increase ves­sel traf­fic in the Sal­ish Sea, and engages in per­mit review process­es to ensure that increased ves­sel traf­fic and asso­ci­at­ed impacts and risks are addressed.

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