City of Tacoma, Port of Tacoma and Puget Sound Energy like to talk about the safety of this proposed fracked gas plant in terms of miles. An 8 million gallon tank of liquefied gas sited in a heavily populated area. Supposedly, the blast radius would only extend within 1.5 miles from the site. The City of Tacoma, lead agency for the Environmental Impact Statement, has essentially given green lights for safety to Puget Sound Energy.
Recently, I happened to be down on the port, and was shocked to realize just how close the site is to Marine View Drive. It was quite sobering. So, I decided that I wanted to map out exactly how close to a busy road this plant will be, in terms of minutes. There may not be homes within that 1.5 mile radius, but there will still be plenty of people at risk if a disaster were to happen. Minutes, because when an explosion happens, seconds will be precious.
So, first things first. I live up the hill from Tyee Marina. Time wise, it’s only a couple of minutes at 42 mph from the marina to the intersection of 11th and Marine View drive. To be precise, the distance from the entrance of the Tyee Marina to the intersection at 11th street and Marine View Drive is 2.33 minutes.
This first video shows the distance, in minutes, from Marine View Drive, over the 11th street bridge, to the site where the fracked gas plant is sited to be built. Construction is underway. You’ll notice, as you turn the corner, the tank farm on the left. With something like 12 tanks, storing crude oils, including Bakken fracked oil, as well as biofuels. By the way, Targa is planning for permits to implement another expansion and bring more and more fracked gas to the region. This video shows that the drive, at 35 mph, is less than two minutes from Marine View Drive. Less than two minutes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m scared to death thinking of all the traffic that this road sees. School buses, motorcyclists on summer cruises, less than two minutes from an impact of what would be a devastating explosion.
This video, although a poor representation, shows how close this plant is to Chinook Landing. The Marina at Chinook Landing is basically ground zero for any catastrophe from the plant. How many people are on this site, at any given time? In the parking lot, on the boats, in the building? This is a highly populated marina. Lots of families.
And lest we forget, the impact to the waters in a tank explosion scenario. The plant is sited right next door to the OxyChem plant – which is a superfund site. The Oxychem site is permeated by a toxic sludge in the soil and the ground water, that is on the move, ever so slowly, into the Salish Sea. A toxic sludge so acidic that it literally eats away at the bedrock. In an 8 million gallon fracked gas tank explosion scenario – would the potential for move the sludge further out into the Salish Sea be increased? Currently, the “cleanup” plan is to build a wall, which is really only containment. Wouldn’t that wall be compromised by an explosion? These are questions that I am fairly certain that the City of Tacoma, the Port of Tacoma, and Puget Sound Energy have not explored.
I want to share one more very short video with you. This one was taken from the last pull out on the way down McMurray Hill road, toward Marine View Drive. You can see, just a little bit, the tanks off to the left, through the trees. Lining our precious Hylebos waterway. In an 8 million gallon tank explosion scenario, where the tank is less than two minutes distance from a tank farm of biofuels, and minutes away from homes, we are looking at a severely catastrophic event.
I will be doing some work to help me process my fear and grief around the assaults our water, land and communities are facing – more than just showing up to meetings and writing blog posts. If you need to process fear, grief, anger….find someone in the community who can help you with that.
In the meantime, I highly recommend spending more time near the water. While you can.