OLYMPIA – Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have signed a formal agreement to jointly oversee the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposal from Millennium Bulk Terminals - Longview, LLC (MBTL) to develop a coal export terminal at the site of the previous Reynolds aluminum smelter near Longview.
The three agencies will coordinate their work under Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), enables the Corps, County, and Ecology to coordinate the environmental review and avoid duplicate efforts where SEPA and NEPA overlap.
Millennium Bulk Terminals – Longview, LLC, whose members are Ambre Energy North America and Arch Coal, proposes to build and operate a coal export facility capable of receiving coal by rail, stockpiling the coal, and loading it onto ships for export.
The proposal calls for two separate construction stages. Both will be addressed in the EIS. In Stage 1, MBTL proposes to handle up to 25 million metric tons of coal per year, while Stage 2 would expand handling up to a total of 44 million metric tons per year.
Both NEPA and SEPA require the disclosure and evaluation of environmental effects of a proposed action. An EIS is prepared when a proposed action is likely to have significant environmental impacts.
The EIS process includes three major milestones: scoping, a draft EIS and a final EIS.
The first opportunity for public input will be during the scoping process, commonly referred to as “scoping.” During this process the three agencies will seek public comment on the appropriate scope of the environmental analysis for the project. The lead agencies will seek comments that will guide their decision on how the EIS will address:
· A reasonable range of alternatives for the proposal.
· Potentially affected resources and the extent to which the EIS should analyze those resources.
· Identifying significant unavoidable adverse impacts.
· Measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate effects caused by the proposals.
After considering comments during scoping, the Corps, County and Ecology will decide what should be included in the EIS.
Work on a draft EIS will begin after scoping is complete. Once a draft EIS is developed, there will be a formal public review period. Learn more about the SEPA process and the opportunities for public comment by reading the Citizens Guide to SEPA Review and Commenting.
Under this week’s agreement, management and technical direction of the environmental review will be shared by the agencies. A third-party consultant will be hired to prepare the EIS.
Ecology agreed to a Cowlitz County request to join the County as co-lead under SEPA earlier this year.
The agencies’ environmental review is separate from a cleanup that is being conducted under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act at the site. Ecology is working with site owner Northwest Alloys-Alcoa and site operator Millennium Bulk Terminals to investigate and clean up the site where the Reynolds Metals Company owned and operated an aluminum smelter from 1941 to 2000. The smelter was permanently shut down in 2001. More information on the cleanup effort is available on Ecology’s Reynolds Metal cleanup website.
The coal export terminal also would be separate from current export operations on the site. Millennium Bulk Terminals currently moves alumina by ship and rail and imports a small amount of coal by rail for use by the neighboring Weyerhaeuser complex. These operations have existing permits specific to the operations and would not be altered by the adjacent coal export terminal proposal. For more information on current operations, see Ecology’s current operations website.
Linda Kent, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Wojtowicz, Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning, 360-577-3052, email@example.com
Patricia Graesser, Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Office, 206-764-3760, firstname.lastname@example.org