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Thursday, October 6, 2022

BP Cherry Point Terminal Final Environmental Impact Statement Released

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 12, 2022

Aerial View of BP Cherry Point Dock (Photo, NOAA, 2013)

Aerial View of BP Cherry Point Dock (Photo, NOAA, 2013)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the North Wing of the BP Cherry Point Marine Terminal, which is located near Ferndale, Wash. The Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency today.

The Final EIS examines the incremental environmental effects related to operation of the North Wing of the BP Cherry Point Marine Terminal, the risk of potential accidents and oil spills within a portion of Puget Sound, the effect of extended escorts for vessels transiting to and from the terminal, and the effect of disallowing a vessel route between Cherry Point and Padilla Bay.

Three alternatives were analyzed: the Proposed Action, No Action Alternative and Alternative A. The Proposed Action is to modify the existing permit authorizing construction and operation of the North Wing as necessary to comply with applicable laws and regulations and to uphold the public interest. The No Action Alternative would deny authorization by revoking the existing permit. This alternative could require removal of the previously authorized structure from waters of the United States or could simply require discontinuing use of the structure. Alternative A would leave the permit in place as issued, with no additional conditions or restrictions.

USACE was directed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 to complete an EIS considering the impacts of reasonably foreseeable increases in vessel traffic due to the addition of the North Wing. The scoping phase was initiated in 2006. After conducting two long-term vessel traffic studies, USACE released the Draft EIS in 2014 for public review. The Final EIS is now being released following the completion of Endangered Species Act consultation with NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

The purpose of the EIS is to provide decision-makers and the public with information on the incremental environmental risk—principally from vessel traffic—related to operation of the North Wing of the BP Cherry Point Marine Terminal.

USACE’s Magnuson Amendment determination will be released with its Department of the Army permit decision, which will be detailed in the Record of Decision. Congress’s stated purpose in enacting the Magnuson Amendment was to restrict crude oil tanker traffic to protect Puget Sound from environmental harm. The ROD will also address tribal treaty rights.

The ROD can be issued no earlier than 30 days from the publication of this Final EIS. The timeline for permit decision will be primarily based on the conclusion of tribal consultation.

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