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.

9 Replies to "Maybe moot, but Hearing Examiner rules that it's OK for Shell to use Terminal 5"

  • Enough September 30, 2015 (4:21 pm)

    Conclusion #27 from the decision: “The Director’s Interpretation was clearly erroneous.”

    This document is a slap in the face to our City leaders. There’s nothing in this document for Earthjustice to appeal. Stop wasting our public resources on this absurd legal challenge.

  • forgotmyname September 30, 2015 (5:01 pm)

    …and here’s a genius idea: Maybe don’t give permits to companies whose existence is antithetical to your stated beliefs. If Seattle wants to promote ‘Green Energy’ instead of ‘Fossil Fuels’, perhaps you shouldn’t make deals with fossil fuel companies. You know, just a thought.

  • chemist September 30, 2015 (5:09 pm)

    Conclusion #25 – “DPD argues that the City can require separate use approval for moorage of the Foss operations at Terminal 5 and that is has done so in the past. A review of the record does not establish that the City has previously regulated moorage of vessels as a separate use through its permitting process.”
    Sure sounds like the DPD really pulled their initial decision from the way political winds were blowing.

  • JayDee September 30, 2015 (6:17 pm)

    With the Matson “Luraline” berthed at T-25 for the past six years and not moving except up and down with the tides, I found the whole idea that berthing a ship (which can be used as a drill rig as well) at Terminal 5 for a fraction of the time was materially any different. The DPD and the Mayor deserve all the blame on this hypocritical attempt to look green. Let’s talk cruise ships which are also not that green…wait, they are sacred cows…nevermind.

  • alkistu September 30, 2015 (6:43 pm)

    The Polar Pioneer will quite possibly be redeployed to another offshore drilling area. The hope is it won’t return to Terminal 5 as well as any of the other equipment. The false assumption that the oil drilling equipment met zero emissions standards is dis proven by the waiver they secretly acquired to emit 13 different waste streams. Bring these contaminates back to Terminal 5 would upset the major super fund cleanup of the 1990’s.

  • Ray September 30, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    Yep. DPD definitely overstepped its bounds trying to score some political points here instead of making sure that we have a thriving economy that is well-regulated, which is their actual job.

    So much of our local economy is directly tied to fossil fuels that it is ridiculous to go after the industry this way.

  • Smitty September 30, 2015 (7:19 pm)

    Launch the canoes!

  • KT September 30, 2015 (8:35 pm)

    DPD did exactly what the Mayor wanted done. Such a waste of time but no Seattle politician would ever pass up a chance for some political grandstanding.

  • Jim September 30, 2015 (9:04 pm)

    You want “green” at Terminal 5? Make the Port put in Shore Power so the cargo ships don’t pollute while docked for days at a time.

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