Westway and Imperium Expansion Projects

Draft Environmental Impact Statements
Rail Traffic Fact Sheet

The proposed projects would receive crude oil and other bulk liquids transported by rail on the Puget Sound & Pacific (PS&P) rail line. This line goes from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company main line in Centralia, to the project sites in Hoquiam (about 59 miles). Current rail traffic on the PS&P rail line is approximately three train trips per day.

Operation of the proposed projects would increase rail traffic. The projects propose to use trains, where all the rail cars carry the same material. The studies assumed each train has 120 cars. The Westway project would add an average of 1.25 trains (loaded and empty) a day, or 458 trains a year. The Imperium project would add an average of 2 trains (loaded and empty) a day, or 730 trains a year.

What impacts on rail traffic were analyzed?

The studies looked at how increased rail traffic to and from the project sites would affect existing rail service between Centralia and the project sites. The 2015 Washington State Marine & Rail Oil Transportation Study and Washington State Department of Transportation plans were used for the studies. The analysis focused on the PS&P rail line, because all trains for the proposed facilities would travel along this corridor to get to the project sites.

The rail studies looked at the rail line and rail traffic. Impacts from rail traffic, like potential car delays or emergency vehicle access, were studied in Section 3.16, Vehicle Traffic and Safety.

The studies also described rail traffic outside of Grays Harbor. Chapter 5, Extended Rail and Vessel Transport, looked at rail traffic in Washington state and to the Bakken oil fields. Risks of spills and explosions from vessels are analyzed in Chapter 4, Environmental Health and Safety.

How were the impacts analyzed?

The studies describe the current rail traffic on the PS&P rail line and the rail track capacity. They consider the proposed facility operations and transportation by rail. Then they identify potential impacts on rail traffic from the proposed projects. Finally, the studies include actions that can mitigate or offset the potential impacts.

A model was created and used for the analysis. It looked at the PS&P rail line and modeled current and future rail traffic to find any impacts from increased trains from the proposed projects, using both the existing line and future improvements. The model found the current PS&P rail line could handle up to 12 trips per day, and that the current rail could handle the increased rail traffic from the projects. No rail work would be required to move trains safely to and from the project sites.

How would the proposed projects affect rail traffic?

Construction and Operations

The projects propose to expand existing rail on the project sites. Westway would expand the current two short spurs with 18 loading and unloading spots, to four longer spurs with a total of 80 loading and unloading spots. Imperium would expand the rail by building about 6,100 feet of track for two new spur extensions, in addition to the five existing spurs. These expansions would be located on the project sites, and would not be part of the PS&P rail line. The studies found construction and operations on the facility sites would not impact the PS&P rail line.

This fact sheet is provided as a general overview for public outreach purposes. This summary does not include all aspects of the analysis. The detailed analysis, data, and findings are in the Draft EIS for each proposal. The Draft EISs are the SEPA documents of record for information.

PS&P rail line at crossing Photo: Ted Curphey

Rail Traffic

Rail traffic along the PS&P rail line would increase under the proposed projects. The studies found the PS&P rail line can accommodate up to 12 train trips per day. This is enough capacity for the new rail traffic to the project sites.

More rail traffic on the PS&P rail line would increase how often trains block road crossings. Trains for the projects would occupy PS&P rail crossings for more time than existing trains, because of the increased frequency of trains and their increased length. Most of the crossings are on the line from Centralia to east Aberdeen, and are currently blocked by trains between 7 to 26 minutes in a 24-hour period. These times would increase by up to 13 minutes for the Westway project, and up to 20 minutes for the Imperium project, depending on the crossing.

Between east Aberdeen and the project sites, trains would occupy rail crossings longer, because the train cars are split up so they can be moved in and out of the Poynor Rail Yard. Currently, trains can block rail crossings in this area for long periods. Trains currently block crossings in the Olympic Gateway Plaza area (east of Poynor Yard). The additional train traffic would increase the average daily time that crossings are blocked.

The current amount of time each day the Olympic Gateway Plaza area is blocked ranges from 49 to 70 minutes a day. This time would increase to 96 to 112 minutes a day for the Westway project, and 108 to 138 minutes a day for the Imperium project.

The proposed projects would also increase the amount of time that access into the Olympic Gateway Plaza is blocked for vehicles at a time. Currently, access into and out of the plaza is blocked for a maximum of 37 to 44 minutes four times per week. This time would increase to 45 to 52 minutes, for either proposed project, and would happen an additional 4.5 times per week for the Westway project and 7 times per week for the Imperium project.

Trains currently block crossings in the Port of Grays Harbor area (west of Poynor Yard) between 14 and 43 minutes a day. This time would increase to 10 to 22 minutes for the Westway project, and to 58 to 77 minutes for the Imperium project. The impacts from the trains blocking crossings on car traffic is described in the Vehicle Traffic Fact Sheet.

What can Westway and Imperium do to reduce impacts on rail traffic?

Overall, the existing PS&P rail line infrastructure and capacity could accommodate trains for the proposed projects. No mitigation is recommended to address rail traffic. Increased rail traffic, particularly between east Aberdeen and the project sites, would affect vehicle traffic and safety. Mitigation measures to address vehicle impacts related to rail operations are discussed in the Vehicle Traffic and Safety Fact Sheet. Mitigation measures to address the risk of spills or explosions from rail is discussed in the Crude Oil Environmental Health and Safety Fact Sheet.

Where is more information available?

Within the Draft EISs, Section 3.15, Rail Traffic, has detailed information on current conditions, analysis and findings for rail traffic on the PS&P line. Section 3.16, Vehicle Traffic and Safety, analyzed the impacts of rail traffic on car traffic.

Chapter 5, Extended Rail and Vessel Transport, describes rail traffic outside of Grays Harbor. Chapter 4, Environmental Health and Safety includes detailed information and analyses on spills and explosion risks from rail traffic.

There is an additional fact sheet discussing Vehicle Traffic. There is also a fact sheet with information on risks of crude oil spills, Crude Oil Environmental Health and Safety.


SITE INFORMATION

Projects:
Westway Terminal proposal
Imperium Terminal proposal

Location:
Port of Grays Harbor, Grays Harbor County at 46.9711N/123.859W

Ecology Point of Contact:
Diane Butorac
Regional Planner
Southwest Regional Office
Department of Ecology
Diane.Butorac@ecy.wa.gov
(360) 407-6594

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This fact sheet is provided as a general overview for public outreach purposes. This summary does not include all aspects of the analysis. The detailed analysis, data, and findings are in the Draft EIS for each proposal. The Draft EISs are the SEPA documents of record for information.

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