Thursday, May 3, 2012

Landholder Opposes St. Helens Coal Export Terminal

The company controlling much of the land where the Port of St. Helens wants to place a coal export terminal has rejected a proposal to build the facility, saying that the project could result in too much pollution.

Portland General Electric, which controls about 850 acres of land at the Port Westward industrial park, says that coal dust from the proposed terminal could negatively impact the air that’s used for combustion at two nearby natural gas plants.

Kinder Morgan has plans to build and operate a 100-acre coal export terminal on part of developable land that PGE operates. The utility can sublease the land under a 99-year lease that it signed with St. Helens in 2008. Under the lease, the utility has the final say on what portions of the property are used for.

PGE this week publicly said that it believes that coal dust could cause problems for its nearby facilities and that it was concerned by a potential increase in rail traffic.

The export facility would cost between $150 million to $200 million to build and export 15 million tons of coal to Asia annually, according to Kinder Morgan. If plans to place the terminal at the Port Westward complex fall through, the Port of St. Helens still has hundreds of acres of land elsewhere that could be designated as suitable for the project, according to the port, and other options are still being considered.

With its opposition, PGE is now in solidarity with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that have been opposed to the coal export terminal on the grounds that it would result in bringing air and noise pollution to the area.

The Port of St. Helens commission has already approved another coal export facility at Port Westward, however. Under the project, which would be run by Ambre Energy North America, coal would arrive at the terminal via barge rather than train, then transferred to ships at the dock.