LONGVIEW, Wash. -- The Washington State Department of Ecology rejected a water quality permit for Millennium Bulk Terminals, which wants to build and operate a coal export terminal near Longview.
“We will certainly appeal this decision,” said company spokesperson Wendy Hutchinson.
The company is locked in a years-long battle with environmentalists over its project. It began seven years ago when two coal companies formed Millennium, according to Hutchinson, to export their coal to Asia.
The coal would come from mines around Montana and Wyoming, be placed in rail cars and pulled along train tracks along the Columbia River to the export terminal.
Millennium has spent $15 million trying to get the permits it needs for the project and another $25 million tearing down the old aluminum plant that is on the site where it wants to build the terminal, said Hutchinson.
Tuesday, the Washington Department of Ecology rejected the company’s request for a water quality permit with a strongly worded press release.
It cited among other things, a wide spread impact from the terminal.
“…the coal export terminal near Longview would have caused significant and unavoidable harm to nine environmental areas: air quality, vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety, noise pollution, social and community resources, cultural resources, and tribal resources,” the release reported.
Ecology Director Maia Bellon said, “There are simply too many unavoidable and negative environmental impacts for the project to move forward.”
Environmentalists who have fought the project for years were thrilled.
“I think the decision handed down by the state of Washington is a major obstacle for millennium to overcome,” said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky from Columbia River Keeper. “They can’t build a terminal unless they have a hundred percent of their permits and right now they’re very far from that.”
“I would say our reaction is that we’re disappointed,” said Hutchinson. She argued the company is able to meet tight environmental regulations.
She also argued the project is worth $680 million, and will bring badly needed jobs to the county.
“This project will provide hundreds of family wage jobs into this community and we have good support locally and statewide because of the jobs, because of the additional trade infrastructure,” she said.
The company will appeal to the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office