Tuesday, May 5, 2015

City of Seattle Blocks Port Terminal Lease

By Mark Edward Nero

A lease that the Port of Seattle signed months ago to house seasonal moorage of a drilling rig and accompanying tugboats at Terminal 5 is not valid and has to be reworked, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said May 4.

The mayor’s statement came the same day that the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) released an interpretation regarding the proposed use of Terminal 5. The DPD concluded that an additional use permit is required for the proposed seasonal moorage of a drilling rig and accompanying tugboats. Reports have indicated that two drilling rigs are destined for Seattle: the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer. The information provided by the port indicates that just one, the Polar Pioneer, would moor at Terminal 5.

Under the terms of the lease, Foss would have been able to use the premises specifically as a transport facility in which quantities of goods or container cargo are stored without undergoing any manufacturing process, are transferred to other carriers or are stored outdoors in order to transfer them to other locations.

On Feb. 9, the port signed the two-year lease with Foss Maritime, giving Foss the right to short-term moorage and vessel operations along 50 acres at the port’s 156-acre Terminal 5, which is currently undergoing renovation.

On March 2 however, a coalition of five environmental groups filed a challenge against the port’s lease on the grounds that the lease would change the use of Terminal 5 by converting it into a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet.

The mayor made the lease denial announcement during the Climate Solutions annual breakfast.

“I expect the port to obtain all required city permits before any moorage or work begins at T5 on off-shore oil drilling equipment. While requiring a new permit may not stop the port’s plans, it does give the port an opportunity to pause and rethink this issue,” Murray said. “I urge the port to consider: is this really the right use of Terminal 5, even for the short term? Does this use reflect the businesses of the future we want in Seattle?”

“This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters – and reject this short-term lease,” the mayor said.