Pasco might consider following Spokane’s lead in asking to be part of discussions on a proposal to build a massive oil train terminal in Vancouver, Wash.
Spokane last month filed a petition to intervene in proceedings by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which is looking at a proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. to build a facility that could handle up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the Associated Press.
Seven other entities also have asked to take part in the discussions, including a coalition of environmentalists, a labor union and tribal groups.
The Pasco City Council and City Manager Dave Zabell also might need to become involved because the trains carry more than 100 cars at a time through downtown, fire Chief Bob Gear said after giving an annual performance report at Monday’s council meeting.
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Gear pointed to a derailment last week in northern Illinois in which a train carrying oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation exploded, creating a “substantial danger” of contaminating the Mississippi River.
“Personally, I thought it would be appropriate for us to weigh in on that,” Gear said. “Nobody has the capability to deal with a fire on that volume.”
After the meeting, Zabell disagreed with statements Spokane Mayor David Condon made in the Spokesman-Review. Condon claimed Spokane would be the only urbanized area on the oil trains’ route from the Bakken to Vancouver. Zabell said Pasco and Kennewick are also along the tracks.
A map the paper ran does show a planned future alternative route for the oil trains that would bypass the Tri-Cities on its way to the Columbia River Gorge.
Also Monday, the council:
• Discussed a rare change for one of its biennial goals. The council decided last year to make a priority of finding a smaller senior center to replace its current 22,000 square-foot facility, which has been declining in usage in recent years. Rick Terway, city administrative and community services director, advised the council to change the goal to seek a community center for all ages.
Mayor Matt Watkins applauded the move, which needs council approval, pointing to the change to a community center that Richland made. He said the all-ages facility is still heavily used by seniors.
But Councilman Bob Hoffmann warned against spending an estimated $2 million to $3 million on a new facility without doing proper research. He said Pasco would be better off buying an existing building and turning it into a community center.
“It shouldn’t be something we’re in a great hurry to do,” he said. “We should watch and wait for something to come up.”
The city had been in discussions with the Pasco School District about selling or leasing the building. District spokeswoman Leslee Caul said earlier Monday that the discussions are ongoing.
• Heard from Jeremy Peterson of Occupy Tri-Cities, who asked what the city is doing to address police brutality in the wake of last month’s shooting death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35.
“We’re looking for a break from business as usual,” he said.
Watkins responded that the city will have to wait until an investigation into Zambrano-Montes’ death is complete to know if any action needs to be taken.
Councilman Al Yenney told the group of about 10 Zambrano-Montes supporters that Pasco is already being proactive. He said he attended a ribbon-cutting last week for a community health clinic.
“We have quite an issue here with drugs and gangs,” Yenney said. “Along with being proactive on this issue, maybe you should be proactive on that.”