Terminal 5 modernization? Read, and react to, the draft Environmental Impact Statement

(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.p@portseattle.org.

For more information on the proposed improvements and to comment online, visit t5eis.publicmeeting.info.

Comments can also be emailed to: SEPA.p@portseattle.org – 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.

30 Replies to "Terminal 5 modernization? Read, and react to, the draft Environmental Impact Statement"

  • Neighbor May 23, 2016 (6:24 pm)

    It appears they are not considering providing electric to the massive new ships they expect to berth there, so those massive ships will run their engines 24/7 while at the port, contributing toxic pollution to the neighborhood, and up the Duwamish industrial area. The negative impact on economically sensitive residents in the valley will cause increased asthma and other respiratory health issues, and the port will absolve itself of responsibility because it’ll have a few electric vehicles on site instead of the diesel alternative. Sigh.

    • Sepp May 25, 2016 (8:44 pm)

      This claim is not true.  Alternatives
      2 and 3 will both provide for shorepower for 2 ships (berths) so the ships can
      turn off (cold iron) their main and auxiliary engines which use bunker
      fuel.  There is presently no shore
      power at the terminal, which would continue under the No-Action Alternative.  See Table 3.13-1 in Volume 1 of the
      proposed EIS for Proposed Electrical System Upgrades for Alternatives 2 and 3
      for a clear display of these facts.

  • Gene May 23, 2016 (7:06 pm)

    Neighbor -perhaps you can go to one of the meetings & voice your concerns.

  • Dale May 23, 2016 (7:20 pm)


    Larger container ships leads to other problem per this article last year. 

    Here is another article regarding the pollutants associated with heavy oil from cargo ships. Frightening. From 2009 but the issue is far from resolved. 


  • Neighbor May 23, 2016 (9:22 pm)

    The neighbors surrounding the ports at Long Beach CA had to sue to force the port to provide electric power.  The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court. The Court sided with the neighbors saying the pollution from these ships is a significant health risk.

    This  is going to impact our neighborhoods in such a detrimential way, everything from traffic to increases of cancer. We must get active and hold the Port to the highest operating standards. It sickens me that little kids are going to get cancer from these ships. According to the lawsuit out of LA statically this will be the result unless we all get our neighbors and protect ourselves. It’s time to wake up  and protect your families.

  • Frank May 23, 2016 (9:33 pm)

    Are there any stats on how many deaths have been caused by living near a container ship terminal? Did all admiral residence that have lived above T-5 for years and years while it was fully operational pass away? In reading the WS blog it sounds like we residence may be more likely of being injured in a shooting than we would by a container terminal.

  • montanapup May 23, 2016 (9:52 pm)

    I read the EIS – it’s pretty sound in general. Having the engines going is likened to that of having your car running while sitting in the Ferry line. 

    If you want to rally to have them include/provide the electrical – it could be argued –  with the ESA – endangered species listing in the area, Clean Water and Air. Good tactic would be to get the local tribe involved as well. My $3. 

  • montanapup May 23, 2016 (9:56 pm)

    AND! Revenue generated from charging for local power use would benefit our Port and economy. 

  • dale May 23, 2016 (10:06 pm)

    @Frank the articles Ive read concluded 60 thousand a year worldwide, 3500 a year in the US based on pollutants emitted from ships. Not enough?

  • Frank May 23, 2016 (11:27 pm)

    @Dale I was asking for stats of west seattle deaths caused by terminal 5’s existence. It’s been a container terminal for close to 22 years. We need stats from our city and our community it’s what we are talking about I thought?

  • dale May 24, 2016 (1:22 am)

    @Frank. I understood that. There will never be a world wide study like this broken down to zip codes, or your neighborhood. My question is, what is acceptable? Is it acceptable that the deaths happen elsewhere? 

  • d May 24, 2016 (7:22 am)

    Terminal 5 it’s been there for longer than any of you have own your homes you should have moved somewhere there wasn’t a port in your backyard

    • Mike May 24, 2016 (3:25 pm)

      I think you meant to say Harbor Island was there longer than people on here have owned their homes.  “Terminal 5 construction, 1961

      In 1954, the Port purchased a portion of the land where today’s Terminal 5 sits from Ames Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. The intent was to develop a modern marine terminal there, but that was a long time coming.” – https://www.portseattle.org/About/History/Pages/Terminal-5-.aspx
      It’s OK d, my home was built in 1949.  So I’ll just ask the Port of Seattle to move their terminal 5 elsewhere.
  • JIm May 24, 2016 (8:14 am)

    D and Frank – 

    You are missing the whole point.  These harms are fixable while still maintaining the terminal and jobs,  The Port (Seaport Alliance) is just choosing not to do it because they don’t want to.

    Asking how many people you can prove were killed by Terminal 5 is the most ridiculous question.

  • steve May 24, 2016 (8:53 am)

    ? No Power? – I saw these comments and thought I would look for myself.  Jumping to the section on Utilities 3.13.  I saw several statements on additional power to be provided with a couple of the alternatives.  There is a table that talks about what it would be for different equipment.  Are people just commenting without actually looking at the document? 

    • WSB May 24, 2016 (9:02 am)

      I’m up to page 60-something and one of the points of contention pre-draft-EIS seems to be addressed – section says shore power “conduit, wiring, connection system would be available for … two berths” – Will be writing a highlight report when I make it through all 248 pages.

  • Neighbor May 24, 2016 (9:27 am)

    @Frank-no there are no studies that can point to specific deaths caused by the Port. However, I live on the neighborhood above the Port and in my little area multiple long term residents have died of lung cancer, brain cancer, and other cancer related  deaths. Let that sink in….multiple lung cancer deaths, multiple brain cancer deaths. This past year over four dogs have died  of cancer, this is just the past year, this rate is above the national average. 

    The Port is operating with no regard for West Seattle and the region in general when it comes to putting profits above our safety, it has been for decades. We have a chance to change this and protect our community.

    • Mike May 24, 2016 (3:29 pm)

      – Duwamish head is the most polluted water way in the entire USA.

      – If cargo ships do now turn off their engines and plug into shore electric power, you have the equivalent of 50 Million passenger vehicles idling for each ship idling at port.

  • JIm May 24, 2016 (10:13 am)

    WSB –  Volume II of this DEIS is where the real flaws in analysis hide.  Sorry to say, it’s another 689 pages to review.

    • WSB May 24, 2016 (10:23 am)

      You’ve already read 1,000 pages in 24 hours? I’ve been a lifelong speed reader but that’s beyond my capabilities!

  • Alan May 24, 2016 (10:20 am)

    @neighbor- Are you saying that without the port none of these people (and dogs) would have died of cancer? Interesting logic…

  • JIm May 24, 2016 (10:31 am)

    Nope.  Started with the areas of most interest.  Found flaws, and biased, erroneous assumptions.  Looking through the rest of it. 

  • JIm May 24, 2016 (10:58 am)

    Take a closer look at  Hardly a firm commitment to using shore power.

    That first paragraph says they are only building to 26 MVA and that there will not be enough power for everything.  Why only build to 26 MVA?  SCL says they’d love to supply the power.  Which are will get restricted without enough electricity?  Cranes?  Reefer units? ………….. ?

    That last paragraph says the plug will be available for ships that are capable (with no mention of what percentage that will be) and for ships that “choose” to use it.  (that pretty much knocks the percentage way down)   Shippers don’t “choose” to use shore power.  They’d rather not bother with it.  It’s the community breathing the air that has to demand they use it if capable. 

    Those loopholes mean that the plug will sit on the dock unused, except for the occasional ship.  Occasional doesn’t cut it.

  • JIm May 24, 2016 (11:05 am)

    For those of you that think you are looking out for the workers by opposing efforts to demand shore power, the local ILWU (Longshore) supports the use of shore power at Terminal 5.  They don’t want to breath the fumes at work AND shore power creates jobs for the ILWU.  You know, those “good paying family wage jobs” that the Port so often says is their strong point.

    Don’t confuse those who want to stop Terminal 5 with those that want it done right.

  • Neighbor May 24, 2016 (11:12 am)

    @Alan-no that is not what I am saying, what I am saying is that these cancers are not generally found in such density, they don’t generally occur with the frequency we have in this area. This is extremely worrisome to all of us who live here, it should be especially troubling to those with young families since we know that many early exposures lead to cancer later in life.  Again, I refer to the California ruling that states the risk is there and citizens deserve to be protected.

    This being said I am waiting for Herbold’s response to this report. She is responsible for advocating for her constituents. We deserve a Port that is proactive when it comes to our health and safety. 

  • Mike Baker May 24, 2016 (12:11 pm)

    This is what your California competition is doing.

    automation and zero emissions 


  • pat davis May 24, 2016 (2:53 pm)

    We are in possession of copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. It is sectioned off into two parts.  It is nearly 1,000 pages long.  Apparently there are copies available at the libraries.  With regard to above comments:  Yes, the ILWU (longshore union) does share the goal of clear air for their workers. They actually try to negotiate it in their contracts with the Port.  One thing that is true and a basis for comments:  we ALL  NEED  CLEAR  AIR.   Puget Sound Clear Air Agency – currently – has sites where they have 24/7 ‘real time’ air quality measurements (scientifically) PSCA also has – currently – online reporting as well as enforcement and follow up. The best thing we can do as a community is get loud and clear on this:  We want that same PSCA equipment placed at Terminal 5 and added to the existing data base that PSCA already has in place. We also are requesting one or more air quality assessment devices be located within our community:  Hot air (diesel fumes, ship exhaust, train diesel) moves upward (with the help of Elliott Bay) and that is that pollution that we are breathing. We need air quality monitoring within our community so there is true protection from ‘whatever’ the Port does down there.  Beware of ‘upland improvements’ as well: those are closer to our neighborhoods and likely will increase night time noise and pollution.

    If we do not get 24/7 ‘real time’ air quality protection then we are in harm’s way.  By the time we can report diesel exhaust and air pollution it will be ‘gone’ before a human inspector gets there to measure it.   We  MUST    have 24/7  air quality measurements via Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. We then know ‘what’ we are inhaling (and our children) and the level of toxicity.  We also have a 24/7 ability to report online and get protection.  Please sign petition:  www.terminal5group.com and tell your neighbors of this important issue that impacts our community – forever.

    • WSB May 24, 2016 (3:00 pm)

      Thanks, Pat. In the narrative, it says copies are available at the Delridge, West Seattle (Admiral) and South Park libraries. Why High Point and Southwest aren’t included, I don’t know but plan to ask.

  • pat davis May 25, 2016 (10:46 am)

    thanks WSB :)  Let us know which libraries have the DEIS. 

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