PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland has rejected a request from Zenith Energy to add underground pipes at its Northwest Portland oil terminal along the Willamette River.
Zenith had told city officials it would promise not to pass any fossil fuels though the three pipes, only biofuels and a low-toxin chemical used to make polyurethane, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Zenith also said the city would be welcome to inspect the pipes to make sure.
But Zenith acknowledged in its application to the city’s franchise office, which controls what is put beneath city streets, that the new pipes under Northwest Front Avenue would be physically capable of transporting fossil fuels.
So the city’s Office for Community Technology turned Zenith down, according to a letter it sent a Zenith official and a lawyer for the company Friday.
In its letter from interim Community Technology Director Elizabeth Perez, the city cited three reasons for its decision. First, the city in 2015 adopted a policy opposing expansion of infrastructure for transporting or storing fossil fuels in or through Portland or adjacent waterways. Second, the Community Technology Office has no employees who are trained in inspecting oil pipelines, so the city can’t do the testing to ensure Zenith would keep its promise. Lastly, Zenith is already months late on making required and reports to the city, so the city doesn’t feel it can count on the company to self-report.
Zenith has been contentious in Portland because tar sands crude oil from Canada is transported by train through Portland neighborhoods to the firm’s terminal on the Willamette. There it is unloaded, stored and loaded onto ships for export, primarily to other West Coast ports.
The firm didn’t comply with its promise to Oregon safety regulators to conduct a safety drill using tar sands oil, the newspaper reported in April.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement he supports the decision to deny Zenith the pipes.
“I am deeply dedicated to protecting our environment,” he said. “Portland’s commitment to be a climate leader nationally and globally requires a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable fuels and electrification of our transportation sector.”
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com
AP Only 2019