West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
You have 12 more days to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project in West Seattle – unless the comment period is extended.
(Friday afternoon update: It has been.)
Both hearings for this stage of the process are now history, after tonight’s hearing, which was in West Seattle, at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction. As we’d been told Tuesday in Georgetown (WSB coverage here), the format was exactly the same, though there were some divergences along the way.
Again tonight, Commissioner Fred Felleman opened, this time making a point to say “we don’t have a tenant yet” but promising they will “do it right” no matter what they wind up doing.
Paul Meyer, the port’s environmental manager, gave the presentation instead of deputy CEO Kurt Beckett, who was reported to have undergone “emergency dental surgery” earlier in the day, but did arrive around 6:15 pm. First, Commissioner Felleman said he wanted to be sure everyone understood that the Northwest Seaport Alliance jointly manages the Seattle and Tacoma container terminals, but not everything associated with both ports.
Just found out tonight that Terminal 5 will host yet another drill with helicopters on Saturday – this time, as part of the Cascadia Rising megaquake drill that’s been happening at a variety of locations around the region. Susan Stoltzfus with the Port of Seattle told us about it at tonight’s T-5 Draft Environmental Impact Report public hearing (report to come). She says multiple agencies are participating with simulations including a collapsed building, and it’s scheduled between 10 am and 3 pm. If you’re interested in taking a look, she says you’ll be able to view it from the Jack Block Park overlook. In the meantime, if you notice the helicopters and/or other unusual activity at T-5 on Saturday, don’t fret, it’s only a drill.
P.S. As we’ve already reported, a much-more low-key – but no less vital – drill will be happening in High Point, and your direct participation is welcome – here’s where, when, and how.
1:36 PM: Five hours ago, we got a tip that port trucks were backed up in a big way on East Marginal Way, north of Spokane. It’s apparently continued since then – but, per the scanner, the trucks are now dispersing, about 15 minutes after we took the screengrab you see above. They have reportedly been waiting to get into Terminal 46 off Alaskan Way, but, also per scanner discussion, police are saying that terminal is now closed for the day. We have an inquiry out to the port in hopes of finding out more. Truck traffic is of particular interest right now as one of the issues factoring into the environmental review of the Terminal 5 big-ship-readiness project, which has another hearing 5-8:30 pm tonight in The Junction (as previewed earlier).
2:35 PM: Haven’t heard back from the port yet but we’ve just heard police via scanner say that 46 is “open again.”
6:48 PM: Port spokesperson Susan Stoltzfus talked with us briefly at the T-5 hearing, saying all they could figure is that the trucks were “over-dispatched.”
(T-5, empty since summer 2014, in center of 2015 photo by Peter West Carey)
We went to tonight’s Terminal 5 Improvements Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement public hearing in Georgetown mostly to find out the format so you know what to expect at the one in West Seattle on Thursday night.
So you can plan, here’s the format:
5-6 pm, open house
6 pm, presentation, including project background and information on the environmental-review process
6:30 pm, opportunity for attendees to ask “clarifying questions”
6:45 pm until 8 pm (depending on how many speakers), public hearing
8-8:30 pm, open house
Spanish and Vietnamese interpreters were available.
After a welcome by Port Commissioner Fred Felleman, an overview of the “project purpose” was offered, showing that while the current T-5 (which has been closed to cargo for two years now) is set for 136′ maximum ship width, the largest ships out there now go to 193′, and that’s why they need to make it “big-ship ready.”
The project is sponsored by the Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance – its partnership with Tacoma – but Seattle is the lead agency and responsible for the environmental review, which it originally wasn’t going to do – then, after considerable citizen urging, it changed its mind, saying it had discovered that the project was likely to be big enough to mandate one anyway.
As you’ll see in the DEIS, three alternatives are reviewed: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For all the noise-making over the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin‘s Port of Seattle visit three months ago, it seemed barely a whisper was heard when news emerged three weeks ago that the largest cargo ship to visit the U.S. won’t make cross-Pacific runs after all.
But, Northwest Seaport Alliance deputy CEO Kurt Beckett told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s May meeting, expanding the capacity of Terminal 5 in West Seattle is still a must.
Beckett’s visit to the WSTC last Thursday night was supposed to be related to the T-5 project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, published by the port for public comment. The official deadline for that is June 21st, with two public meetings next week. But the discussion sailed beyond project specifics – which Beckett said he couldn’t discuss much anyway during the comment period – and into the waters of how “fluid” the seaport business is right now.
(January 2015 photo of Terminal 5 by Long Bach Nguyen)
Two years ago, the Port of Seattle took a major step in its plan to “modernize” West Seattle’s Terminal 5, weeks before shutting it down as a cargo terminal. And now, it’s time for the next step: The draft Environmental Impact Statement is ready for your review and comments. This is the report that wouldn’t have happened without a group of T-5 neighbors pushing for it; at first, the port didn’t think an EIS would be needed, but the neighbors begged to differ, and launched a petition drive. The port subsequently announced last fall that discussions with potential tenants revealed the scope of operations would require an EIS after all – and now, a one-month comment period has opened, as previewed at recent community meetings we covered. Here’s the port’s official announcement:
The Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance are proposing modifications to marine cargo facilities at Terminal 5.
The Port of Seattle, as lead agency under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project, which includes berth deepening, dock strengthening, and power upgrades to handle larger cranes.
The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma governed jointly by the commissions of the two ports.
“The Northwest Seaport Alliance needs to make Terminal 5 ‘Big Ship Ready’ to remain competitive in today’s global economy,” said NWSA co-chair and Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon.
“Modernizing Terminal 5 will allow us to keep good paying middle class jobs in our region. We encourage the public to weigh in over the next 30 days with their comments about the proposed improvements—either online at your convenience or by attending one of our public hearings,” said NWSA co-chair and Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton.
The environmental review will evaluate potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics (including light and glare), historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services.
Public comments on the Draft EIS will be accepted from May 23 to June 21, will be included in the SEPA record and may result in corrections, additions or clarification to the Draft EIS.
For tips on commenting, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Citizen’s Guide to SEPA Review and Commenting.
The Draft EIS is available online at three locations:
Printed copies of the DEIS will be available at the Seattle Central Library, Delridge Library, South Park Branch Library and the West Seattle Library.
Printed copies also will be available at Port of Seattle offices, 2711 Alaskan Way, Seattle, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday – Friday, through June 21.
If you would like to receive a copy of the DEIS please contact Brenda Thomas at 206-787-3382, or email: SEPA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the proposed improvements and to comment online, visit t5eis.publicmeeting.info.
Comments can also be emailed to: SEPA.email@example.com – please include your mailing address for a response. The other primary ways to comment are listed below:
The Port of Seattle is also hosting two public hearings for people to share comments on the Draft EIS:
Tuesday, June 7
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Georgetown Campus, South Seattle College
6737 Corson Ave. So.
Thursday, June 9
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Alki Masonic Center
4736 40th Ave. SW
If you need the assistance of an interpreter at one of the public hearing events, or want to receive a response to a question in your native language, please call the port’s language help line:
Para español, llame al (206) 787-3797 y marque 1.
Để sử dụng tiếng Việt, gọi số (206) 787-3797 và nhấn phím 2
Soomaali, wac (206) 787-3797, kadib riix 3.
សម្រាប់ភាសាខ្មែរ សូមហៅទូរសព្ទមកលេខ (206) 787-3797 ហើយចុចលេខ 4។
For other languages, call (206) 787-3797 and press 5.
We’ll be reading the draft EIS tonight; followups to come.
Our first report from last night’s Southwest District Council meeting:
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR TERMINAL 5: Paul Meyer of the Port of Seattle provided a quick update (as he had at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council last month). First, a recap of how they got to the point where they decided – as community members had urged – to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed “modernization” project at Terminal 5 in east West Seattle. Then, a quick status report: “We’re almost there,” said Meyer. “We’re about to publish it.”
This time, he had dates: He said they think the publication date will be May 23rd, but it’s not completely locked in yet. Two meetings are scheduled for comments – June 7th at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) and June 9th at the Alki Masonic Center in West Seattle. Meyer said they’re expecting a 30-day comment period which would close June 21st if they publish on May 23rd. But – “they’re still writing” the document, he warned, so the dates MIGHT change.
NEXT REPORT: The bulk of last night’s SWDC meeting focused on community proposals for a share of the city’s Neighborhood Street Fund; the council has to decide which proposals to approve for sending forward in the process.
Now that we all know April 29th is the date the tunneling machine is set to start going under the Alaskan Way Viaduct – closing it precautionarily for “about two weeks” – that date will be top-of-mind for a while. Something else that’s big for the city also starts two weeks from today: This year’s cruise-ship season. The first ship on the schedule, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, will be here that day. But it’s docking at Magnolia’s Pier 91, not the Viaduct-side Pier 66. According to a Port of Seattle fact sheet, this year’s season will bring the most passengers ever – just under 960,000. The 203 ship dockings aren’t a record, though; that number peaked in 2010, with 223. Last ship on the Seattle schedule this year will be the Star Princess, on October 21st.
The “rapid-load” pile test scheduled at Terminal 5 this afternoon has been rescheduled to tomorrow (Tuesday, March 15th), according to Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw:
In response to concerns we’ve heard, we are postponing today’s test.
One of the reasons for the last test being more noticeable may have been its location at the south end of Terminal 5. When we reschedule, it will use less fuel than the last test, with the amount of fuel being the same as what was used in previous tests. We will also use noise and vibration monitoring devices in the vicinity of 37th & Prescott.
The tests will take place tomorrow and Thursday, both at noon. These will be the last of the rapid load tests.
A video made public by the port last week shows, close-up, what these tests look and sound like.
(ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: Newly published Port of Seattle video that, toward the end, shows one of these tests)
12:54 PM: We’ve just confirmed with the Port of Seattle that what rattled windows from Admiral to Pigeon Point a little while ago was another one of those rapid-load pile tests related to the planned Terminal 5 modernization project. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw says the test scheduled for yesterday – second one this week – was postponed until today because of the wind. Judging by the messages/questions we received, this one was apparently the most widely felt one yet. Here’s the original alert from December.
P.S. The next major step in the T-5 project, after this testing ends later this month, is the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement, expected in May.
ADDED 1:32 PM: McGraw just sent word that two more tests are scheduled, Monday (~3 pm) and Wednesday (~noon).
ADDED 8:06 PM: The Port has just published a video explaining how the tests work, and showing one – we’ve added the video above.
If you’re in the Terminal 5 area – take note that the Port of Seattle has two more “rapid-load testing of piles” set for this week, as part of the design/permit process for the Terminal 5 Modernization Project. They’re both scheduled around noon, one tomorrow (Tuesday, March 8th), one on Thursday (March 10th). Port spokesperson Peter McGraw says it “will sound like a half-second cannon shot,” which one reader verified after a recent test (of which we didn’t get advance notice). If you have a question or complaint, here’s the address you can use: Terminal5_Outreach@portseattle.org – McGraw says the test results “may help reduce the number of piles required and the depth of pile installation, which in-turn would reduce noise associated with pile-driving during construction.”
FIRST REPORT, 11:45 AM: It’s the most gawkable thing in our area today – the first-ever visit of the biggest cargo ship to call on North American ports, the CGA CGM Benjamin Franklin, whose arrival was watched at spots from sea level to skyscraper:
It’s at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island, and it just received a VIP welcome across the East Waterway at Terminal 25, fireboat and all.
The event was a chance for the port to show off, in an intensely competitive time up and down the West Coast, as well as the rest of the world. (updated) Here’s our video of the welcoming speeches:
If you don’t have time to watch – some highlights:
Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman emceed. She described herself as an unabashed champion of the working waterfront. “We want to see our working waterfront filled more with working cranes than ferris wheels,” says Bowman.
Next: Mayor Ed Murray, who used the word “incredible” to refer to the ship and our local economy. He echoed Bowman in saying it represents our future as well as our past. And he gave a shoutout to the Lander Street Overpass, vital not only for port traffic but as a surface link between West Seattle and SODO/Downtown.
Northwest Seaport Alliance (the Seattle/Tacoma joint venture) CEO John Wolfe told the crowd he rode in on the Benjamin Franklin.
“What an incredible sight to come into the harbor and see the sunrise over the Seattle skyline.” He says this is the result of the industry “work(ing) together.” He says that in his days as a terminal operator, a ship with a third the capacity of this one – 6,600 containers, compared to 18,000 – was considered big. He touts nearly a billion dollars in investment ahead for the port (that would include the Terminal 5 modernization planned for northeastern West Seattle).
Ed McCarthy, senior VP of the ship’s owner CMA CGM, said it took months of work to get ready for this. He hailed the other modes of transportation it takes “to handle vessels of this size” – including rail and trucks. “There is still some work to be done” here in Seattle, he notes. “This is really a trial right now – the reason we brought the vessel in is that (company leadership) wanted to bring the ship into ports all over the West Coast … There’s a lot of learning we’re gathering from bringing the vessel in, and we’re looking forward to sharing that information with stakeholders as we complete the study.”
Carrix, the parent company of SSA Marine – operator of Terminals 18 and 30 – also was represented, by CEO Knud Stubkjaer.
He said, “This is a moment we’ve been looking forward to, and we’ve been ready for a while.” He talked about the expansion work that has already been done at terminals including the one at which the event was being held, “to create what is a unique and competitive infrastructure for … our customers. … The future has arrived here today.” He also talked about the competition among West Coast ports, and the investment that others were making to fight for the business from megaships like the Benjamin Franklin.
Puget Sound Pilots‘ Capt. David Grobschmidt noted that his day started very early, as he and a team of pilots brought the Benjamin Franklin “successfully into Seattle,” starting alongside Port Angeles around 3 am. “We would really like to see this called her home port,” he concluded.
And president Rich Austin of ILWU Local 19 wrapped up, saying that on behalf of his union, they welcome the ship.
“There are many components to a successful port, and labor is as important as any of those components.” He noted that the ship represented “the future of the industry” and that a “new approach” identifies labor as “instrumental” in making this port “a shipper’s best option.”
Others here include not only port officials but also city and state elected officials. (added) Here’s the official port news release, including an infographic about the ship’s size and capacity.
3:01 PM UPDATE: We’ve added our video, above, of the entire 26 minutes of welcoming speeches. The ship is scheduled to be here until about 8 am Tuesday.
ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: One more visual – just found this time-lapse, from-the-bridge video published to YouTube by another of the Puget Sound Pilots who brought the BF in, Capt. Ed Marmol:
6:49 PM: That Port of Oakland photo from last week resembles what the view will be at Harbor Island’s Terminal 18 around sunset tomorrow – if the sun cooperates (it might). As mentioned here Thursday, the megaship CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin arrives here tomorrow morning, set to dock at T-18 around 7 am, spending one night here and leaving at 8 am Tuesday. With the capacity of 18,000 containers, it’s the biggest cargo ship to visit the U.S. This size of ship is the reason the Port of Seattle wants to expand Terminal 5. Right now, the Benjamin Franklin is approaching the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to MarineTraffic.com; it’s expected in Port Angeles around 3 am to pick up the Puget Sound Pilots who will guide it into Puget Sound, reports the Peninsula Daily News.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE, 6:19 AM: The ship is just passing north Kitsap County right now – you can track it here.
The Port of Oakland recorded that time-lapse video this morning as the 1,300-foot-long CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin arrived. It’s gained a lot of attention as the biggest cargo ship ever to call in North America, and it’s due to arrive here next Monday morning (February 29th). After stopping in Long Beach – where it was inaugurated last Friday – the Benjamin Franklin arrived in Oakland this morning; Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw says it’s due at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island around 7 am Monday, and will leave the next day, Tuesday (March 1st), at 8 am. No public events are planned during its stay, but the media’s been invited to a ceremony including the mayor and port reps; we plan to be there.
P.S. Other stats – besides the ship being more than twice as long as the 605-foot Space Needle is tall – it’s 177 feet wide and 197 feet high (roughly equal to a 20-story building), with its tallest antenna topping out at 230 feet.
ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY REPORT: Just in from the Port of Seattle:
Rapid load testing of piles as part of the design and permitting process for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project is expected to occur around mid-day on Friday, Jan. 29. The test will sound like a half-second cannon shot. The sound can be as loud as 145 decibels. A total of nine rapid load tests will occur between January and the end of March, with no more than one test occurring per day. The first test occurred on Friday, Jan. 22. The test results may help reduce the number of piles required and the depth of pile installation, which in-turn would reduce noise associated with pile-driving during construction. All tests will take place Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in compliance with the City of Seattle Noise Ordinance. Federal, state and city agencies have issued permits for the test pile program.
Anyone hear the test last Friday?
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The port says this will be closer to 3 pm.
ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY NOTE: If you’re anywhere within earshot of West Seattle’s Terminal 5 on Friday – you might hear this. The alert is from Peter McGraw at the Port of Seattle:
As you know, the Port of Seattle is in the process of making Terminal 5 ‘big ship ready.’ This includes a number of steps, including dredging and strengthening the dock for larger cranes, which requires installing new piles while we undergo our environmental impact statement (EIS).
Before any of this happens, we need to run a number of tests, which includes using what is called a rapid load test.
The first rapid load testing of piles as part of the design and permitting process for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project is expected to occur around mid-day on Friday, Jan. 22. An additional test may take place on Monday, Jan. 26.
The tests sound like a half-second cannon shot. The sound can be as loud as 145 decibels. A total of nine rapid load tests will occur between January and the end of March, with no more than one test occurring per day.
The test results may help reduce the number of piles required and the depth of pile installation, which in-turn would reduce noise associated with pile-driving during construction.
All tests will take place Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in compliance with the City of Seattle Noise Ordinance.
How loud is 145 decibels? On this list of “decibel equivalents,” that’s just below “Formula 1 race car full-throttle drive-by.”
FRIDAY UPDATE: We asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw if they have a time estimate – he says the latest is “between 12 and 12:30 pm.”
FOLLOWUP: New update, 12:50ish.
11:09 AM: We’ve just checked with the Port of Seattle for the status of what it announced before Christmas – that a contractor would soon start driving test piles at Terminal 5 in West Seattle, as it gears up for the modernization project – about two months work to install “about 27 piles … at the edge of the Terminal 5 wharf.” The announcement added, “Once installed, some of the piles will be tested using a method known as rapid-load testing. The testing sounds like a half-second cannon shot. The sound can be as loud as 145 decibels at a distance of 50 feet. Nine tests are planned, with no more than one test per day.” We called port spokesperson Peter McGraw this morning to ask if the work was still set to start this week as the December announcement had said; he says the contractor tells them it’ll begin “within a few days.” The T-5 modernization project, expected to have a nine-digit price tag, is intended to make the terminal able to handle “megaships”; as reported by the Tacoma News-Tribune a week ago, one such ship is likely to visit Harbor Island’s T-18 next month.
11:27 AM: Update from the port: McGraw says, “Pile installation is scheduled to occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday in compliance with the City of Seattle’s noise ordinance.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
That speech today at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) brought him full circle, Bryant said, because he announced his Port Commission run at nearby Jack Block Park in 2006.
His run for governor, by contrast, was announced online. And here’s our video of what he told the Rotary Club today:
Bryant delivered more of a valedictory for his 8 years on the commission than a speech looking ahead to what he would hope to do as governor. He said he ran on a platform that eventually spanned four key points:
Quick reminder: If you have something to say about the Port of Seattle‘s environmental review for the Terminal 5 modernization proposal, tomorrow (Monday, November 23rd) is the deadline. Start here. The key comments at this point in the process would be your thoughts on issues that should be reviewed – noise, traffic, air quality, etc. You can review recent coverage in the WSB Port of Seattle-related archives.
(Mouse over the video window to bring up the “play” button)
You’re more used to seeing it helping search for suspects – but the Guardian One helicopter also works in search-and-rescue, and right now it’s in action as part of an emergency-preparedness exercise happening at West Seattle’s Terminal 5.
The Port of Seattle sent an advance alert last week and expects the aerial part of the drill, also involving other agencies from around the region, to continue until about noon.
ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: After the drill, Assistant Seattle Fire Chief A.J. Vickrey explained on camera what it was all about – and how many types of events this preparedness practice, years in the making, could help with:
(Recent Terminal 5 photo by Long Bach Nguyen, showing two ships from the Shell drilling fleet, Tor Viking and Harvey Explorer)
The Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5 hasn’t been entirely idle since its official closure in July of last year, but the Shell ships are much smaller than what the port expects to see after its planned “modernization” program.
The original modernization plan did not include a full environmental-impact review, you might recall, but area residents pushed for one, and the port finally announced last month that it’s going to get one done because of the scale of the potential tenants it’s talking with.
Here’s where you come in: Tomorrow night, the port invites you to a meeting to focus on the scope of the environmental-impact review. And those concerned West Seattleites are hoping to have your help in shaping it.
One of them, Jim Wojciechowski, was at last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting to make one more pitch for participation.
“Public comment is what’s going to keep the momentum going” for a project responsive to West Seattleites’ concerns, he said. Neighbors are trying to “mitigate the damages,” said Wojciechowski – noise, traffic, and air pollution are top issues. So this is the time when the port will “scope” to see what the Environmental Impact Statement should include.
Wojciechowski stressed that “it’s the public input that’s going to determine” what happens as the port uses a consultant to prepare the EIS. “They’re bringing in big ships … and they’ll be bringing in smaller ships too. They’re sitting there running their engines while they’re there for a few days,” and that’s why neighbors are “pushing for shore power.” Every major port on the West Coast is already implementing or planning for shore power, according to Wojciechowski.
He also pointed out that since Terminal 5 closed more than a year ago, it’s generating no truck traffic right now, and “everyone’s complacent.” Meantime, the potential for train “quiet zones” is something that appeals to neighbors – but it would be costly. Finally, he reminded attendees that the port is holding an “online open house” right now. As ANA president David Whiting reiterated, it’s collecting comments on what the EIS should study – what potential impacts the project might have – not comments on whether or not the modernization project should happen.
Before the meeting, we had asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about the format of Thursday night’s meeting (5:30 pm-8:30 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California SW). Here’s what he provided:
Open House with stations: 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Presentation: 6:00 – 6:30 pm
Q&A (outside of comments) 6:30 – 6:45 pm
Public Comment: 6:45 – 8:00 pm – could go later if needed
Resume Open House: 8:00 – 8:30 pm
Again, the port’s official information on the process, including tomorrow night’s meeting, is here.
P.S. Separate from the official port process, T-5 neighbors also have a new online petition.
P.P.S. Our second report on the ANA meeting, on an unrelated but even more impassioned topic, is still in the works.
As photographed from Jack Block Park, that’s the Aiviq, one of three ships from Shell‘s Arctic-drilling fleet now docked at West Seattle’s Terminal 5. (Thanks to Ted for the three-ship tip.) Out of view to the right is the canary-yellow-hulled Tor Viking, and to the left is Harvey Explorer:
So what are they doing here, you ask, considering Shell shelved its drilling plans, and sent the largest member of the fleet, the platform Polar Pioneer, to Port Angeles? there are still some loose ends to tie up, as T-5 tenant Foss Maritime‘s spokesperson Paul Queary had mentioned back in September. And that’s what’s happening now, Queary tells WSB today: “Foss has a lease with the Port of Seattle through January 2017, with options to renew. We are actively pursuing business for the terminal. For now, we continue to serve our current customer as they wind down their project.”
SIDE NOTE: Looking further into Terminal 5’s future, you’ll recall that the port has launched the Environmental Impact Statement process for its “modernization” project – while you can get information and comment via the “online open house” that continues until Nov. 23, also remember that the in-person “scoping meeting” is now eight days away, at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW) on Thursday, November 12th, 5:30-8:30 pm. (A rep of the neighborhood group that campaigned for the environmental review is also on tonight’s Southwest District Council agenda, as mentioned in our daily preview.)
A big development tonight in the Port of Seattle‘s plan to “modernize” Terminal 5 in West Seattle – and in neighbors’ push for a full environmental review.
The Port announced tonight that it will be creating an Environmental Impact Statement for the modernization project after all. It had not been planning on one – believing, as reps told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition in July, that while it would have bigger ships, it wouldn’t have bigger cargo volume. But neighbors had campaigned for an EIS, even placing roadside signs promoting a website that pointed to a petition, as reported here back in August:
Then, there were hints that the tide on this might be turning, including a mention at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting that a potential tenant with whom the port was talking would have needs beyond what had been anticipated when the port said it didn’t need to do a major review. And now tonight, port reps sent word of the plan for the EIS. A website is already live, with both an “online open house” that you can explore at any time – officially, tomorrow (October 22nd) through Nov. 23rd – and word of a “scoping meeting” set for 5:30-8:30 pm November 12th at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (The process is explained here.)
Shortly after receiving word of the planned EIS from community advocates (thank you), we also received a news release from port spokesperson Peter McGraw. We asked him a followup question on whether this was an indication an announcement of a tenant is imminent; his reply – “We continue to have discussions with potential customers.” You can read the full news release here.