VANCOUVER -- Commissioners for the Port of Vancouver voted unanimously Tuesday morning to move ahead with a proposed crude oil terminal at the port, but the approval process could take up to two years.
Dozens of people turned out Monday night to make a passionate plea against the terminal, which supporters said would bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to Vancouver.
It would also bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil through the area every day. Opponents of the proposal believe it would be unsafe for Vancouver.
The plan calls for oil to be hauled by train from North Dakota through the Gorge to a facility at the Port of Vancouver. From there the oil would be loaded on tankers and shipped down the Columbia River.
Background: Crude oil facility proposed in Vancouver
Critics expressed their concern to the port's board of commissioners in a meeting Monday night, and things got heated in the overflowing crowd.
“To rush forward like this, it is reckless,” said opponent Brent Foster.
“Our dependence on oil is ridiculous, to the point of being an addiction,” said another opponent. “The worst addiction imaginable.”
“I do feel we all need profit in order to sustain, and I’m for profit, but when profit hurts people and the environment, it is not profit,” yet another opponent said.
Critics also pointed to a disaster in Canada earlier this month in which a train carrying oil derailed, killing dozens of people.
“They don’t even know why it happened,” Foster said, “and the Port of Vancouver is getting ready to approve a long-term lease.”
But not everybody was passionately against the idea. Supporters of the oil terminal said it will bring millions of dollars to the region and thousands of jobs.
“We believe this can be done very safely at the Port of Vancouver and we believe we have the assets to accomplish it,” said Executive Director Todd Coleman. “Not only accomplish it, but accomplish it well.”
The port's board of commissioners gave a green light to the plan Tuesday morning. They said the approval process would start next month.
KGW reporters Mike Benner and Art Edwards contributed to this report.