Joint release: Cowlitz County, Washington State Department of Ecology - September 6, 2013

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Extended meeting times, ground rules for meetings announced by agencies seeking input on environmental reviews for export terminal proposal

COWLITZ COUNTY – Notice of modifications to scoping are being released in a revised Notice of Intent (NOI) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a revised Determination of Significance (DS) from Cowlitz County.

People will have four additional hours during meetings in Longview and Clark County to attend an open house and offer comments on what should be studied in state and federal environmental impact statements (EISs) being prepared for a proposed export terminal for shipping coal near Longview. The dates and times remain the same for the other scoping meetings in Spokane, Pasco and Tacoma.

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC proposes to build and operate a terminal to export coal from the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Cowlitz County.

Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will be using a synchronized process to complete environmental reviews meeting federal and state requirements.

Cowlitz County and Ecology must follow the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and the Corps must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The revisions to the NOI and DS do not alter the scoping period, which began Aug. 16 and closes Nov. 18, and will not affect scoping meeting dates and locations.

Agencies emphasize safe and respectful scoping meetings

The co-lead agencies also are announcing they have set meeting ground rules to create a safe, secure and respectful atmosphere where every voice can be heard. A lottery drawing system will be used to provide an unbiased selection of speakers – and in anticipation that many people will want to provide oral comments before an audience, a time limit of two minutes per speaker is established for all scoping meetings.

“We ask that everyone attending the scoping meetings follow the ground rules. This will allow for the most people to be heard,” said Cowlitz County Building and Planning Director Elaine Placido.  “All three agencies are committed to a fair, thorough and useful environmental review process. Public comment is a cornerstone of this process, so fostering a safe and civil environment to comment is vital.”

Meeting ground rules include:

The two scoping meetings that have been extended to add time to gather comments specific to the federal EIS – in Longview and Clark County – will begin at noon and end at 8 p.m., with an open house available throughout.

The revised comment times during these meetings are:

Scoping meetings previously announced by the co-lead agencies will be held as scheduled. They will run from 4 to 8 p.m. with an open house available throughout. They are:

All five meetings will include areas to provide written comments as well as a quiet room with a court reporter for people who would like to share oral comments without proximity to a crowd. These options will be available throughout all of the meetings. At all meetings, no formal presentation will occur, so people may arrive and leave as they choose during the meeting hours.

Representatives from the three agencies will attend all scoping meetings and will accept and review all comments received. 

In addition, an “online scoping meeting” is available continuously on the EIS Internet website at www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov.

All comments received during the scoping comment period will be considered during preparation of the draft EISs. All co-lead agencies will review all comments submitted online, via email, via postal mail and at all meetings. All comments received during the scoping period will be given equal weight regardless of how they are received.

Written comments regarding the scope of the EISs, including the environmental analysis, range of alternatives, and potential mitigation actions should be submitted in the following ways:

Through scoping, the agencies will decide what impacts to analyze in the EISs. The three lead agencies are asking other agencies, tribes and the public to recommend what should be studied in the EISs and identify specific issues and concerns. After considering comments, the lead agencies will decide what will be included in the EISs.

The purpose of scoping is to assist in identifying pertinent issues, public concerns, and alternatives, and the depth to which they should be evaluated in each EIS.

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For more information:

The agencies’ environmental review is separate from a cleanup being conducted at the site under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. Ecology is working with site owner Northwest Alloys-Alcoa and site operator Millennium Bulk Terminals to investigate and clean up the site where the Reynolds Metals Company owned and operated an aluminum smelter from 1941 to 2000. The smelter was permanently shut down in 2001. More information on the cleanup effort is available on Ecology’s Reynolds Metal cleanup website.

The proposed coal shipping terminal project is also separate from current operations on the site. Millennium Bulk Terminals currently moves alumina from ship to rail to supply a Wenatchee aluminum smelter. The company also imports a small amount of coal by rail for use by the neighboring Weyerhaeuser complex. For more information about current operations, see Ecology’s current operations website.

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Media Contacts:

Sandi Peck, Ecology media relations, 360-407-7004, sandi.peck@ecy.wa.gov

Linda Kent, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239, linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov

Stephanie Dunn, Cowlitz County, 360-577-3065, ext. 9-2736, DunnS@co.cowlitz.wa.us

For more information:

Official website for Millennium proposal scoping process (www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov)  

Ecology's Millennium website (www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/millennium/index.html)  

Cowlitz County (www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/Index.aspx?NID=1559)  

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District (www.nws.usace.army.mil)  

Washington Office of Regulatory Assistance (http://www.ora.wa.gov/)  

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)