The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued air quality, water quality and construction stormwater permits for the proposed Coyote Island Terminal coal export project in Boardman, Oregon, said the project backer on Feb. 11.
The project is known as the Morrow Pacific project and is backed by Australia’s Ambre Energy, which in the last couple of years has also invested in the U.S. coal production industry.
“As we’ve said all along, we are committed to meeting the high environmental standards set by the state of Oregon. By issuing these three permits after a rigorous process, the Department of Environmental Quality has affirmed that the project complies with environmental rules and regulations of the state of Oregon,” said Clark Moseley, CEO of the Morrow Pacific project.
The project, which is currently seeking permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Department of State Lands, is projected to be operational by the beginning of 2015. The Corps has indicated that a permitting decision will be made in the spring of 2014.
“We are committed to doing business the Oregon way, and working with local companies to strengthen our economy. We’re ready to start work just as soon as we receive permits from the Corps and Oregon DSL,” added Moseley.
The Morrow Pacific project involve the shipment of low-sulfur coal by rail from Intermountain states to the Port of Morrow near Boardman. There it will be transferred to an enclosed storage facility and loaded onto covered barges through an enclosed conveyor.The coal will then be shipped down the Columbia River to Port of St. Helens’ Port Westward Industrial Park. There, enclosed transloaders will transfer the coal onto covered oceangoing Panamax ships bound for Pacific Rim countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The company said the Morrow Pacific project is setting new standards for protecting the environment while supporting the economy. Beginning when coal is off-loaded at the Port of Morrow facility until it arrives in Asia, there will be no visible coal and little, if any, coal dust. Initially, one four-barge tow per day will move down the Columbia River, shipping 3.5 million metric tons of coal per year. At full capacity, barge tows will increase to two per day with expected shipment of 8 million metric tons per year.
This is one of a handful of coal export terminal projects in Oregon and Washington that has provoked a storm of environmental opposition. The points of criticism from environmentalists range from the coal dust shed by trains moving this coal to the ports, to the CO2 that will be produced when this coal is burned in foreign power plants.