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NOISE ALERT: Friday test at Terminal 5 will ‘sound like a half-second cannon shot’

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.

UPDATE: Port to start test pile-driving at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 on Saturday

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.”

ELECTION 2016: Republican governor candidate Bill Bryant ends his Port Commission career with Rotary Club of West Seattle speech

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before Bill Bryant becomes a full-time candidate for governor, he had one last thing on his to-do list as a two-term Seattle Port Commissioner: A speech to the Rotary Club of West Seattle.

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:

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Something to say about Terminal 5 environmental review? Time’s running out

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.

VIDEO: Helicopter drill @ West Seattle’s Terminal 5, years in the making

(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:

Admiral Neighborhood Association, report #1: Port-meeting preview

(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.

Three ships from Shell’s Arctic fleet now in at Terminal 5

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.)

TERMINAL 5: Port of Seattle will do an Environmental Impact Statement for modernization project, after all

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.

You won’t see Shell’s Polar Pioneer back at Terminal 5, per regional reports

(May 15th photo of Polar Pioneer at T-5, by Long Bach Nguyen)
1:54 AM: Since Shell‘s announcement two weeks ago that it was shelving Arctic offshore drilling TFN, we’ve been awaiting word on where its rigs would wind up – whether there was any chance, for example, the Polar Pioneer would come back to West Seattle’s Terminal 5, where it spent a month before heading off to drill. You’ll recall that the T-5 interim tenant, Foss Maritime, said at the time that it was too soon to say.

According to new reports in two publications, both quoting Shell, the answer is “no.”

Both KUCB in Unalaska and the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles say the Polar Pioneer will head back to PA. KUCB reports that both the PP and Shell’s other rig, the Noble Discoverer, arrived Sunday in Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor. According to KUCB, the ND didn’t stay long, heading out on Monday, bound for Everett, where it was docked until heading north for Shell’s short-lived drilling effort. The PDN reports Shell isn’t saying when the Polar Pioneer is due back in those waters, where it spent four weeks before coming to T-5 for a similar stay. And we don’t know if any of the support vessels might return to T-5; the one that seemed to spend the most time there, Aiviq, is currently Everett-bound, according to MarineTraffic.com.

Maybe moot, but Hearing Examiner rules that it’s OK for Shell to use Terminal 5

(May photo by Long Bach Nguyen: Shell’s Polar Pioneer at T-5)
Two days after Shell‘s announcement that its offshore-drilling attempts in the Arctic are over TFN, a decision on a related West Seattle issue is in, though it might be a moot point:

That document spells out how the city Hearing Examiner’s Office has just ruled against the city Department of Planning and Development‘s contention back in May that the Port of Seattle would need a different set of permits to allow Shell’s offshore-drilling fleet to use West Seattle’s Terminal 5.

The fleet had done just that earlier this year, you’ll recall, despite DPD’s contention, which Shell, the Port, and T-5 leaseholder Foss had challenged, with the port calling it “irrational.”

Mayor Murray says he’s “disappointed” but adds that the city will not challenge the ruling by deputy Hearing Examiner Anne Watanabe, who listened to arguments over five days this summer; documents were still being posted to the voluminous online case file as recently as last week.

But Earthjustice, representing four environmental groups supporting the DPD decision, says it might appeal the Hearing Examiner’s ruling. Its managing attorney Patti Goldman is quoted in a news release as saying, “The City got it right when it decided a massive drill rig is not a cargo ship and a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet is not a cargo terminal.”

So far, Shell has not said where its rigs are headed after pulling out of the Arctic Ocean. Foss spokesperson Paul Queary told us on Monday that some items remained at T-5 to be picked up, and that fleet-related vessels had some cargo offloading to be done … but whether that would happen here remained to be seen.

Shell quits Arctic offshore drilling: Will rigs return to West Seattle’s Terminal 5?

(June 2015 WSB photo)
8:50 AM: Three and a half months after its Polar Pioneer rig left West Seattle, Arctic-bound, Shell announced overnight that it will “cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.” Shell said it “safely drilled (an exploration) well to a total depth of 6800 feet” and found “indications of oil and gas,” but not enough to justify continuing, so the “well will be sealed and abandoned.”

In addition to the controversy over Arctic drilling itself, Shell’s local presence still had some unresolved issues, including a pending city Hearing Examiner decision on the appeal of last May’s Department of Planning and Development “interpretation” saying more permits were needed for its use of Terminal 5 as part of Foss Maritime‘s lease. After multiple days of testimony over the summer, documents are still being filed in the case.

But the immediate question is whether any of Shell’s fleet will be headed back this way; besides the Polar Pioneer, several Shell support vessels used T-5 before heading north to the Arctic Ocean.

(May 2015 photo by Paul Weatherman: Shell’s Aiviq and Polar Pioneer @ T-5)
We talked this morning with Foss spokesperson Paul Queary. He says the company is “obviously disappointed” about Shell’s decision to abandon the offshore Arctic, but they don’t know yet what the oil company will do “regarding the vessels coming back to T-5.” Queary says there are still some loose ends at the very least, including items “to be picked up” and cargo to be offloaded. Shell or no Shell, he says, Foss still has a lease with the Port of Seattle and is “seeking other opportunities” for utilizing the space.

We’ll be following up on other aspects of the Shell announcement and will add to this story as the day goes on.

11:38 AM: Earthjustice, which went to court to try to stop the lease the port signed in February, sent a statement: “Shell’s departure from the Arctic Ocean removes for now a major threat to the region’s wildlife, already suffering from climate change more rapid than anywhere on earth. Arctic Ocean oil drilling is a thing of the past. The world cannot afford to burn the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves, let alone to search for unknown oil in Arctic Ocean, risking an irreplaceable region and wildlife in the process. President Obama now has an opportunity to build on his climate legacy and end Arctic Ocean drilling for good. It’s time to invest in the future of clean renewable energy and a sustainable climate for future generations.”

12:04 PM: A statement from Mayor Murray: ““I am pleased that Shell has ceased their Arctic drilling operations. The people of Seattle stood up to oppose the use of our city as a base for expanded Arctic drilling. With today’s announcement, it is time to move forward. I am committed to working with the Port and our critical maritime industry to build a clean economy of the future that provides high-paying maritime jobs and preserves our environment.”

1:26 PM: And from County Executive Dow Constantine: “While we should all be relieved that Shell Oil decided not to drill in the Arctic, this will not be the last proposal to drill for fossil fuels in that region, posing both local and global environmental risks. Let’s seize this opportunity to make King County a hub for clean-technology development and take the lead in creating a sustainable 21st-century economy.”

Off West Seattle, cruise season’s about to end until next year

Around 4 pm, Holland America Line’s Amsterdam and Noordam and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl are scheduled to sail out of Elliott Bay, ending the 2015 Seattle cruise season. According to the Port of Seattle‘s media advisory for the departures:

For the eighth year in a row, Port of Seattle cruise terminals welcomed over 800,000 revenue passengers. This year brought 192 cruise ship calls. Seattle’s cruise business — currently leading all cruise homeports on the West Coast in passenger volume — is responsible for over 3,600 jobs, $441 million in annual business revenue, and $17.2 million annually in state and local tax revenues. Each homeported cruise vessel brings $2.5 million to the local economy.

Amsterdam and Noordam are leaving Pier 91 in Magnolia; Norwegian Pearl is sailing from Pier 66 downtown.

PHOTOS: Scenes from Saturday’s port-presented ‘Working Waterfront’ tour for West Seattleites

Thanks to Karen Berge for sharing photos from Saturday’s free Port of Seattle-presented boat tour of the area’s “Working Waterfront.” Karen reports the tour traveled along both the East and the West Waterways north of the Duwamish River; above, a closer look at one of the container ships in port at the time, the CGA-CGM Attila. The tour also traveled past Vigor Industrial‘s shipyard on Harbor Island:

One of the more eye-catching sights there, a partly wrapped state ferry – the M/V Tacoma, undergoing work at Vigor, same place it was built in the mid-’90s (when the shipyard was known as Todd):

As the tour headed into the Duwamish River, Karen says they traveled under the low bridge as well as the high bridge:

If the tide had been any higher, she said, the low bridge would have had to have opened. Along the Duwamish, the sights turned to many a barge:

That included the one that generated some controversy among local environmental advocates for bringing in contaminated sediment from Bellingham :

Speaking of controversy, the tour also went by West Seattle’s Terminal 5:

Part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet is still expected back at T-5 after the short drilling season, but the city Hearing Examiner’s decision is still pending, regarding whether additional city permits are needed.

Along with the diversity of facilities along the waterfront, the diversity of vessels was in view too. With the reconfiguration of Highway 99 and Alaskan Way on the south side of downtown, you don’t get as much of a view of the Coast Guard’s ships any more – here’s what was visible from the tour:

Karen concluded, in her note with the photos, “What I found most interesting was the opportunity to see a different perspective of places that I think I know so well. I cross both of the West Seattle bridges frequently, but have not had opportunities to see the underside of these bridges from a boat.

“Today, we saw parks, buildings, and industrial facilities in a different way than we have seen them before. I’ve gone to Jack Block Park as a destination, but have never seen it or any of the surrounding shoreline from the water, so it was incredibly interesting to see it in that context.

“It was also interesting to see the mixture of newer versus older buildings and learn more about those that I’ve never pondered. For example, our tour boat passed by the old Fisher Flour Mill and when asked, no one could identify it by name.” She adds that port reps say they’ll be offering the “working waterfront” tour to other neighborhoods – West Seattle was the first.

West Seattle Chamber of Commerce hears ‘State of the Port’ from commission co-president Courtney Gregoire

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Big changes for the Port of Seattle, and more on the way.

That’s what Seattle Port Commission co-president Courtney Gregoire detailed to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly lunch meeting on Thursday, under a tent at port-owned Jack Block Park (whose namesake, a former commissioner himself, was in attendance).

Gregoire (pictured above with the WS Chamber’s CEO Lynn Dennis and board chair Hamilton Gardiner) touched only briefly on the controversy that turned commission meetings into international news earlier this year.

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Signed up yet? Port’s rescheduled ‘West Seattle Working Waterfront’ tour coming up September 19th

September 2, 2015 7:55 pm
|    Comments Off on Signed up yet? Port’s rescheduled ‘West Seattle Working Waterfront’ tour coming up September 19th
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

From tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting: A reminder that the Port of Seattle‘s rescheduled “West Seattle Working Waterfront Tour” is coming up on Saturday, September 19th, and registration is happening right now. It’s a round trip from Pier 66 on the downtown waterfront, aboard the Spirit of Seattle; free (validated) parking near the pier will be available if you need it. All ages are welcome and there will be a special program during the cruise for kids, as well as narration for all. The official description: “Get an up-close look at the Port of Seattle cargo facilities that generate 24,000 jobs in our community with an annual payroll of $2 billion.” Check-in will be at 9 am on tour day; the tour itself will take you out on the water 9:30-11:30 am. The Port (which is advertising on WSB to promote the tour) reminds you that space is limited and you can register for up to 4 tickets – “RSVP with the name for each guest attending and e-mail pos-reception@portseattle.org by September 15th. Questions? Call 206-787-3527.”

Now at Harbor Island: Biggest container ship here, ever

September 1, 2015 5:55 pm
|    Comments Off on Now at Harbor Island: Biggest container ship here, ever
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

The Northwest Seaport Alliance – the new entity that includes the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma – says that’s the biggest container ship ever to call in Puget Sound, the CMA CGM Callisto, which arrived at Terminal 18 today. As big as it is – see all the stats here – it’s not as big as the ships the port wants to redesign Terminal 5 to handle, which will hold up to a third more container volume than this one. The Callisto is scheduled to head back out tomorrow. Speaking of the modernization proposal – this Friday is the comment deadline for key aspects of that proposal – details are in our report from two weeks ago.

Port neighbors seek full environmental review of Terminal 5 project, while city re-opens time for comments after losing some

You’ve probably seen those signs around Admiral and east Alki. They’re not for a political campaign – they’re for the citizen-advocacy campaign to get the Port of Seattle to change its mind about part of the process leading up to its planned modernization of Terminal 5; the web address on the signs points you to this online petition.

Though Terminal 5 has made headlines in the past several months for the short-term lease that brought in part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, this isn’t related to that. This has to do with the port’s long-term plan for the sprawling terminal in northeast West Seattle, as reported here more than a year ago – the plan to make it “big-ship ready,” as the phrase goes. Not that the ships that called at Terminal 5 until its closure a year ago weren’t big – but they weren’t as big as the ones that are expected to dominate the business in the years ahead.

Right now, the port says it doesn’t need a full environmental review for the proposal, because ultimately, it contends, the volume won’t be any larger – it’ll just come on bigger, and fewer, ships. Port reps defended that contention when they spoke at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s meeting last month (WSB coverage here, including first mention of the neighbors’ petition campaign). Nearby residents cited multiple reasons why they believe a full environmental review – which includes issues such as traffic and noise, not just ecological effects – is warranted.

A new twist since that meeting: The city reopened the comment period on a certain part of the process – the “shoreline substantial development application” – because it lost a month’s worth of citizen comments sent in via the Department of Planning and Development‘s online system. DPD spokesperson Wendy Shark confirmed this to us when we inquired via e-mail:

An upgrade to the Land Use Information Bulletin (LUIB) application was made on June 29. Before the upgrade, comments sent via the link posted in the LUIB were forwarded directly to the Public Resource Center. That didn’t happen after the upgrade. The issue was brought to our attention by members of the public when they noticed that their comments had not been uploaded to our electronic library. We corrected the problem on July 29.

Here’s the revised official notice – if you used the form attached to the previous notice to send in a comment after June 29th, you’ll want to send it again. And if you haven’t commented on it yet, neighbors point out that unless there’s a turnabout on the environmental-impact review issue, it could be your only chance to comment on those impacts. The notice summarizes the project as:

Shoreline Substantial Development Application to allow improvements to existing container cargo facility (Terminal 5). Project includes removal and replacement of portions of pier structure, including crane rails, decking and piling, dredging of approximately 29,800 cu. yds. of sediment, and under pier shoreline stabilization. Project also includes installation of an electrical substation and utility upgrades. Determination of NonSignificance prepared by the Port of Seattle.

That last part is what the neighbors take most issue with – that’s the declaration (read it here, and read the “environmental checklist” here) that they don’t think a full environmental impact review is needed. Even if the terminal’s container volume is the same as before, or even less, many other factors have changed, they point out – population and traffic, for example, and that’s why they think a study is merited.

For now, September 4th is the new deadline for comments on the modernization project – via this form, or via e-mail at prc@seattle.gov.

FOLLOWUP: Hearing postponed for Port, Foss, Shell, city fight over Terminal 5 permits

(May photo by Paul Weatherman: Shell’s Aiviq and Polar Pioneer @ T-5)
This Thursday was supposed to be the day that the city Hearing Examiner started listening to arguments in the fight over permits allowing the Port to allow Foss to host Shell at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5. But it’s been pushed back three weeks, according to a notice in this morning’s city Land Use Information Bulletin, with the new start date August 13th, continuing into the following day and August 24th if necessary; the delay was requested by Foss, according to the case file. The Port, Foss, and Shell are appealing the city Department of Planning and Development‘s May “interpretation” saying that the port’s permits for use of the terminal don’t cover what’s involved in hosting Shell. More than a dozen maritime-related businesses sought to join the case in their support, as we reported last month, while environmental groups requested permission to support the city’s position. It’s been five weeks since the Polar Pioneer drill rig left West Seattle to head north; what happens in the appeal process now could affect whether it returns here after whatever happens in the Arctic Ocean later this summer.

Terminal 5’s future: No buyer for cranes; new public-comment time for modernization project

Two updates tonight on the future of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 in northeastern West Seattle:

(December 2014 photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
GETTING RID OF THE CRANES: After the port closed the terminal, separate from interim leasing including the Foss/Shell use, it announced plans to sell the six cranes on the site, saying they had been appraised as worth $3.75 million. Ten months later, no buyer(s) have surfaced, so the port wants to pay someone an estimated $4.6 million to take away the six T-5 cranes and one at Terminal 46 on the downtown waterfront. From a briefing paper accompanying last Tuesday’s Port Commission meeting agenda:

Cranes No. 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, and 68 are located at Terminal 5. They were purchased from PACECO Corporation and are classified as post-panamax cranes having a gauge of 100 feet and a lifting capacity of 50 long tons. Crane 54 is located on Terminal 46 and is an IHI crane classified as a panamax having a capacity of 40 long tons and a gauge of 50 feet.

Port staff advertised the cranes in trade journals, contacted used equipment dealers, and reached out to other ports, but received limited interest and no offers. Unfortunately, there are a number of used cranes similar to the PACECOs on the market with very few buyers. There is no market for the IHI crane and it has been inactive since 2008. The result is the Port will have to issue a major public-works contract to have the cranes removed from the terminals.

And that has to be done fast, the port says, because some demolition work is planned at T-5 “in early 2016.” Port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB a final decision is expected at the July 14th commission meeting; this week, along with this briefing, he says commissioners ratified a cost increase in a separate contract to remove three cranes at Terminal 18, which will now cost $1.8 million.

COMMENT TIME FOR MODERNIZATION PLAN: Another public-comment period is now open for the modernization work itself, according to this notice published in the city’s most-recent Land Use Information Bulletin, which summarizes the project as:

Shoreline Substantial Development Application to allow improvements to existing container cargo facility (Terminal 5). Project includes removal and replacement of portions of pier structure, including crane rails, decking and piling, dredging of approximately 29,800 cu. yds. of sediment, and under pier shoreline stabilization. Project also includes installation of an electrical substation and utility upgrades.

You can use this form to send a comment to the city Department of Planning and Development; the deadline is July 24th. You can find what’s been filed with the city by going here and putting 3019071 in the “project number” search box on the left side.

REPORT #1: Shell departing Terminal 5; sea blockade attempt under way

(SCROLL DOWN for updates)

(WSB photo, Sunday @ Don Armeni Boat Ramp)
12:21 AM: Hours after the latest anti-Shell rally at Don Armeni Park – this time, led by Native activists (WSB photo above) – the “Shell No” group says it believes Polar Pioneer will try to depart from Terminal 5 today.

(WSB photo, Sunday from Jack Block Park)
It’s put out a call for people to be ready to join a flotilla blockade, potentially departing from Don Armeni Boat Ramp, where the protest coalition has been headquartered. It’s been exactly a month since the platform leased by Shell for Arctic drilling arrived in West Seattle. The Noble Discoverer drillship, which Shell also plans to deploy, has remained moored in Everett rather than coming to T-5 as once expected.

1:38 AM: A Coast Guard cutter, Blue Shark, is patroling near T-5; in all our watching of maritime comings and goings, we haven’t seen that lately. A Port police boat remains in the area too. And the tug Garth Foss, one of the Foss tugs that brought Polar Pioneer to Seattle from Port Angeles a month ago, arrived in the area not long ago and is stopped offshore northwest of Jack Block Park. Meantime, for a look inside Polar Pioneer and details of exactly where it’s being sent and why, read this in-depth Houston Chronicle story (link tweeted by Stranger reporter Sydney Brownstone).

3:10 AM: Two more of the 4 Foss tugs that brought Polar Pioneer here last month are either in Elliott Bay now (Andrew Foss) or almost here (Lindsey Foss).

4:20 AM: Text alert from the ShellNo Action Council says kayakers have formed “a human blockade to stop Shell from leaving Seattle.” Meantime, tugs are gathering at T-5, MarineTraffic.com shows.

5:31 AM: The activity continues to intensify; more Coast Guard and police vessels are in the area, and one texter tells us a USCG helicopter is up too. We’re heading out for a firsthand look, now that it’s light.

6:16 AM: We’re at Jack Block and Polar Pioneer is definitely pulling out. It’s approaching a water blockade. We’ll be updating in a separate report.

Shell at T-5 updates: Canoe procession/rally Sunday; ‘T-5 Intervenors’ seek to join city permit fight; more

Newest developments in the ongoing Shell presence at Terminal 5 and challenges to it:

WHAT’S UP AT THE DOCK: The latest vessel in the Shell fleet to come dock by the Polar Pioneer is the supply ship Harvey Explorer:

Lynn Hall shared the photo, noticing its arrival in Elliott Bay around 2 pm Friday; it’s one of the vessels specifically called out in the U.S. Coast Guard rule for “safety zones (and) restricted navigation area” related to the Shell Arctic-drilling fleet. We’re also seeing, frequently checking MarineTraffic.com, what appears to be a more constant presence of police/security/port tender boats near T-5. The “Shell No” coalition says it’s watching for signs of potential departure any day now; members expect to deploy a “rapid response” flotilla once they get those signs. It’s based at Don Armeni Boat Ramp:

We photographed the flotilla HQ last night, while musicians performed on the protest barge offshore.

The next major event announced at the barge is tomorrow:

CANOE PROCESSION/RALLY TOMORROW: The Native advocacy movement Idle No More is organizing a canoe procession and rally tomorrow, starting with departure from Don Armeni 10-11 am tomorrow, followed by a rally on the platform, and concluding with a blessing ceremony in late afternoon. The latest information is being posted via this Facebook event page.

MARITIME ‘INTERVENORS’ ASK TO JOIN APPEAL OF CITY ACTION: As first reported here last month, it’ll be late July before the city Hearing Examiner hears the Foss/Port/Shell appeal of the city’s “interpretation” saying the fleet shouldn’t be here. The newest document filed in the case is in support of Foss/Port/Shell, from maritime interests calling themselves the “T-5 intervenors.”

The “T-5 intervenors” are listed as: Alaska Marine Lines, American Seafoods Company, American Waterway Operators, Arctic Fjord, Inc., Arctic Storm, Inc., Ballard Oil Company, Crowley Maritime Corporation, Glacier Fish Company, Premier Pacific Seafoods, Sailors’ Union Of The Pacific, SSA Terminals, LLC, Transportation Institute, and Vigor Industrial LLC. They are asking for permission to “intervene” and show support for the appellants in this case. Their document, embedded above, says they believe that if the interpretation is upheld, it will adversely affect their interests, which, they say, are not exactly the same as Foss, Shell, and the Port:

DPD’s attempt to reinterpret an issued permit after-the-fact has serious far reaching implications on the viability and reliability of the myriad and numerous permits granted to and relied upon by the T-5 Intervenors. For example, any one of the T-5 Intervenors could potentially receive a Notice of Violation at a moment’s notice upon DPD’s reinterpretation of their permits in response to intense political pressure. Or fishing vessels or freight barges could be barred from calling into and docking or mooring for off-season storage and maintenance at Port facilities because DPD changed its mind regarding those operations for similar perceived political reasons at issue in the Appeal. Such a reinterpretation that effectively ejects vessels from their regular operation will undoubtedly and indirectly affect Vigor’s, SSA Terminals, LLC’s and Ballard Oil’s ability to service the array of shipbuilding, repairing, fueling and loading needs of such vessels and operators throughout the region. Neither T-5 Intervenors— nor anyone doing business in Seattle for that matter— can afford to have the terms of their permits and entitlements redefined after issuance. While the Appellants are focused on the Permit and Interpretation at issue in this Appeal, the T-5 Intervenors are focused on the sanctity and security of the permits and entitlements that are part of the bedrock of the maritime industrial community in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

The Hearing Examiner now will decide whether to allow this group to intervene. Its filing came days after a decision granting environmental groups’ motion to intervene on the city’s side.

Shell at T-5: Updates including protest & concert today/tonight

We’re now in what had been reported as Shell’s window for heading north to drill offshore in the Arctic; as of this writing, the Polar Pioneer is still at Terminal 5, and the drillship Noble Discoverer is still in Everett, but one support vessel is reported to be on its way to Alaska. That’s the first of several related developments, including events in West Seattle today/tonight:

ARCTIC CHALLENGER HEADS NORTH: This barge, intended to help in case of a spill, had been in Bellingham but is now on the way to Dutch Harbor, AK, reports Alaska’s KTUU, quoting a Shell spokesperson.

SPILL-RESPONSE PLANS UPHELD: As reported Thursday by SeattlePI.com, three federal judges upheld an approval of Shell’s spill-response plans.

SIX LABOR GROUPS SIGN ‘SHELL NO’ LETTER: This announcement lists OPEIU 8, SEIU 6, UAW Local 4121, UFCW 21, UFW, and Pride at Work/King County Chapter as signatories to a new letter opposing Shell‘s presence at Terminal 5, although, as a preface acknowledges, “We recognize that other labor unions have a position of support for this Oil Rig here.” The preface continues, “We respect their decision, but we feel compelled to speak today given the stakes of climate change and the immediate and long term effects that this has on all people in the US and around the world.”

NEXT WEST SEATTLE PROTEST: According to this frequently updated webpage, picketing is planned at/near the five-ways intersection west of the low bridge this afternoon (Friday, June 12th), 4-6 pm.

FLOTILLA HQ AT DON ARMENI: Organizers are continuing to plan for a “rapid-response” kayak-flotilla protest once they get word the Polar Pioneer is readying to leave. They’re using Don Armeni Boat Ramp as home base and have also set up text messaging to alert potential participants when it’s time.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT ON THE BARGE: A lineup of DJs and musicians are being promoted on social media as #BringTheBoom – Party Protest on the Sound tonight on the barge off Don Armeni, 4-9 pm.

UPDATE: 1 arrest as protest ends Seattle Port Commission meeting

2:41 PM: Seattle Port Commissioners‘ meeting ended early and abruptly this afternoon after protesters in the chambers started chanting “MUR-DE-RERS.” Because of midday breaking news, we couldn’t leave the desk to go downtown, so we were monitoring via the video feed – which was cut shortly after the chanting began. The commission had not yet gotten to general public comments but had instead gone through its “consent agenda” and a variety of briefings on items unrelated to Terminal 5/Foss/Shell. The only reporter we’ve found tweeting from Port HQ on the downtown waterfront, Sydney Brownstone of The Stranger, reports that police cleared the chambers; she has tweeted a photo showing officers, some with bicycles, on the Port HQ front steps, blocking its doors.

ADDED 3:35 PM: Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB that one person was arrested for trespassing and says one officer was assaulted. And he confirms the meeting was adjourned (and will not resume today).

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