No significant environmental impacts from Terminal 5 upgrades? Days left to comment on decision related to long-term plan

(From Port presentation last year regarding T-5 modernization)
While the Port of Seattle‘s interim lease for West Seattle’s Terminal 5 has been in the spotlight lately, a comment period quietly opened for your chance to have a say on a decision related to its future beyond that or any interim use. A nearby neighbor flagged us on this, wanting to make sure you know before it’s too late to comment.

Here’s what’s happening:

The Port says it has decided that its modernization plan for Terminal 5 (first covered here last June) does not need an environmental-impact statement, and for those who have something to say about that, it’s accepting comments until 4 pm Monday (March 23rd). Read the Determination of Non-Significance notice that neighbors received, here or below:

This 42-page Port document, the State Environmental Policy Act “checklist,” explains why they don’t believe a full environmental review is needed. It also says the work is expected to start early next year.

Some neighbors say they plan to comment about expected impacts including increased carbon emissions and noise, especially the long-running issue of train noise, which they expect will increase as “more trains will be needed to offload the super-container ships.”

As noted in the document embedded above, you can comment by e-mailing by the Monday afternoon deadline – but be sure to include a postal-mail address. Again, this is separate from and not related to the “interim lease” for part of T-5, except that some of this work – which could cost up to a quarter-billion dollars, the port says – would overlap with that lease, which covers a third of T-5.

11 Replies to "No significant environmental impacts from Terminal 5 upgrades? Days left to comment on decision related to long-term plan"

  • wakeflood March 20, 2015 (11:12 am)

    OK folks, this is worth a read. I need to do that myself but for anyone who lives on the east-facing side of the peninsula and from Alaska north especially, you might want to consider what noise, light pollution and air quality issues that might be exacerbated by this expansion.

    I’m always curious why entities that want to push forward on projects like this give such short windows for comment. Makes you wonder, especially given the Port’s rush to close the Shell drilling lease without oversight/review.

    I’m not advocating for the project NOT to happen, I AM advocating for the Port to REALISTICALLY estimate and address any impacts to their neighbors and mitigate them appropriately.

  • Jim March 20, 2015 (12:15 pm)

    Wakeflood is right. This will greatly impact life on that side of West Seattle and traffic out of and into West Seattle. The Port has a history at Terminal 5 of not fulfilling their Permit and EIS promises to the community.
    It will be too late when the giant ships are actually at the dock.

  • Gibsheet March 20, 2015 (12:24 pm)

    It’s always amusing when the folks who live in Montlake get uppity when the Huskies have a football game in that stadium that has been there for a 100 years. Like them, the citizens of west Seattle knew there was a port there when they came here, even if those ships had sails back then. It is still our buffer with the rest of the city and it’s still a working port which has an obligation not only to the people of Seattle but to the people in middle America to be run as a seaport. The port is barely surviving the on slot of competition from the likes of Vancouver, B.C. which incidentally, just had their best year ever, mostly on the failure of American ports to service their own citizens. We elected these officials to foster our investment in a safe and sustainable manner and it is not constructive to continually second guess that decision. Let the port do their job.

  • wetone March 20, 2015 (1:08 pm)

    Anyone in the private sector trying to do this would be required. No if’s and’s or butt’s. If the Port can’t afford it then it’s time to change the plans for property, and don’t expect anymore tax dollars from me as the port gets way to much now. On the train noise the city should be placing monitors throughout W/S and many other city locations as the noise has been much worse lately. Port and BNSF should have same requirements for noise issues as neighborhood’s near SeaTac received from port if sound levels are to high.

  • Jim March 20, 2015 (1:10 pm)

    Glibsheet, you’re missing the point. This IS about the Port doing their job, and doing it right. Are Husky fans allowed to park on your lawn on game day?
    Operating Terminal 5 responsibly doesn’t cost any jobs and very little money.

  • Nuss March 20, 2015 (3:25 pm)

    @Glibsheet – Vancouver’s rise in volume was mainly due to domestic (read: Canadian) bulk exports. I don’t see Seattle capturing that market but if T5 were to be expanded there most likely will be a return to larger container volume out of this site and along with that comes noise and congestion – problems that most of us feel aren’t being adequately addressed by the Port. They seem to look solely at the bottom line without taking into consideration the bigger picture, hence our concern. Aside from the concerns noted above they noted that the current rail infrastructure is sufficient for the expanded terminal. Anyone who was stopped or delayed excessively by train and/or truck traffic during their morning and evening commute please make sure your voice is heard.

  • cjboffoli March 20, 2015 (3:31 pm)

    Dredging sediment from the mouth of one of the most polluted waterways in the US doesn’t require an environmental impact statement? Hold on a sec while I look down to see which one of my legs is being pulled.

  • rob March 20, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    Move the fontleroy feery dock there then you move the westseattle taxi there and parking. lots of room to do both

  • Jack Carson March 21, 2015 (2:56 pm)

    What has not been brought up in these discussions is the changes in world wide shipping that are happening with the new enlarged Panama canal. While the Port of Seattle was fighting the Port of Tacoma and the unions were fighting for more money and more jobs the shipping world was changing.

    The enlarged canal will more than double the capacity of tonnage that can go through it. The new ships can carry almost three times the container capacity as the largest ships we currently see in Seattle. The majority of the US population lives on the eastern side of the country. It now has become much less expensive to just ship the cargo to where the population is rather than ship it to the West Coast and then pay more to ship it by rail and truck to where it ultimately is destined. Since the population is greater in California than the NW these new large ships will head there when the cargo is destined for the west rather than Seattle

    This proposed expansion of terminal 5 most likely will be an expensive boondoggle. The ports in the NW will see less and less cargo bound for the mid west or east coast. Seattles days as a world class port are numbered. Lets save the money and not try to compete in a race that we are hindered by geography.

  • Jim March 21, 2015 (4:40 pm)

    Excellent, Jack!
    The Port miscalculates, and taxes us to pay for the mistake.
    What have they got to lose?

  • Nuss March 23, 2015 (9:43 am)

    @Jack – I disagree. The all-water service through the Panama Canal is much more expensive than the combined US West Coast vessel and rail option currently providing for the majority of container cargo destined for the mid-west and east coast. All-water also adds 10 days to the trip. Rail hubs are expanding rapidly to meet the steady increase in volume so Seattle/Tacoma/Oakland/LAX/LGB will have plenty of volume to go around. Labor issues aside, US West Coast ports will still see the large majority of the Asia/US trade. Port of Seattle is a day closer than LA/LGB and they would be foolish to not take advantage of this opportunity and the surrounding area would benefit as a result. As Jim notes, we need to make sure that the best long-term plan is in place so that the environmental concerns are met. Assuming that the cargo will just go away to other places is not a viable plan.

Sorry, comment time is over.