Cowlitz County recently issued a draft Health Impact Assessment (HIA). The HIA utilizes data from the Environmental Impact Statement as its basis (it is not a new study). Like standard HIAs everywhere, the purpose of the HIA is to inform future county planning and is not intended to impact the permits for specific projects like the coal export terminal. Cowlitz County has appealed the Hearing Examiner’s decision and continues to stand by its recommendation to issue permits to Millennium for the coal export terminal.
Opponents have selectively “cherry-picked” statements from the draft Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in an attempt to mislead the public into believing the report found health impacts, where none exist, or where impacts already exist due to current rail and vehicle traffic.
The facts and context are contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed for the Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County for the Millennium project, and often in the full language of the draft HIA.
Risks from Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) are over-stated (as evidenced in FEIS). The project meets EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards that are designed to protect public health.
Opponents' Claim: "Increased cancer rates in communities near the rail line."
FACT: The diesel particulate matter (DPM) study, “...overstates cancer risk even for residential locations...Cancer risk is further overstated for ...commercial and industrial locations....” FEIS Page 5.6-19. MBT operations “would not cause National Ambient Air Quality Standards to be exceeded.” FEIS Page S-35. Standards are designed to protect public health, including sensitive populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. FEIS Page 5.6-2
A key finding of the FEIS was environmental modeling found that the amount of coal dust deposited along train tracks and at the proposed terminal would not exceed air quality standards for human health.
Opponents' Claim: "Significant coal dust and DPM exposures can lead to death, hospitalization from heart and lung disease, asthma attacks…”.
FACT: “Compliance with laws and implementation of the mitigation measures described above (in the FEIS) would reduce impacts related to coal dust. There would be no unavoidable and significant adverse environmental impacts from coal dust.” FEIS Page 5.7-30.
The FEIS Technical Report Life Cycle GHG Analysis concludes that the Project would result in a net reduction of worldwide Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Opponents' Claim: “44 million metric tons of coal yields about 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide once it is used. This is roughly on par with Washington State's current total emissions in one year.”
FACT: “The FEIS analysis also assumes that, even without the proposed MBTL project, the same coal would still be transported, sold and used, albeit on a different timeline and through different ports.” HIA, page 21. Bottom line: The FEIS Technical Report Life Cycle GHG Analysis concludes that the Project would result in a net reduction of worldwide Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview highlighted these, and a host of other mischaracterizations by opponents which were designed to mislead the public. Millennium provided a detailed comment letter to Cowlitz County regarding the draft Health Impact Assessment (HIA).
This full comment letter is available for your review.
Thank you for your continued support.