the film


Ecology and salmon related articles

Refinery Proposed Last Year for
Columbia River, Records Show

by Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick
Oregon Public Broadcasting, April 15, 2015

Fisherman gently holds his Steelhead catch for a photo opportunity. Washington's Port of Longview says it is in talks with an energy company that last year submitted plans for a crude oil refinery on the Columbia River.

Details of the company's planned refinery surfaced Wednesday through public records obtained and released by Columbia Riverkeeper.

A potential agreement between Riverside Energy, Inc. and the port, outlined in an unsigned memo of understanding dated July, 2014, described plans for the development of the first refinery on the Columbia River and the first on the West Coast in 25 years. The refinery would have a capacity of 30,000 barrels per day and produce a mix of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel all primarily for regional use, according to the documents, which were sent Wednesday to media organizations.

Port of Longview spokeswoman Ashley Helenberg said the proposal detailed in the documents is not an active proposal. She said the port is still working with Riverside Energy and is awaiting an updated proposal from the company. Helenberg said the port did not yet know what the new proposal would include, but that it would likely be for a crude oil refinery.

Oil prices have dropped sharply in recent months and oil production in North Dakota has fallen off, as well.

The newly released documents indicated that oil would travel to Longview by rail from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, creating an estimated traffic of 10 trains per month. The refined products would then travel by water.

Several trains carrying crude oil have derailed and exploded in recent years.

Columbia Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel said he would not want to see the proposed refinery materialize.

"This is shocking new information. Refineries are extremely polluting. Highly toxic air pollution," he said. "And to combine a refinery with explosive oil trains -- it's the worst of both worlds."

A presentation from Riverside Refining LLC estimated the project would create more than 400 construction jobs and 150 permanent positions, with an average annual wage of $75,000. The refinery would use "state-of-the-art processing technology" and "will have a lower carbon footprint than existing West Coast refineries," according to the documents.

The refinery described in the documents would be smaller than the existing refineries in Washington. British Petroleum, Phillips 66, Tesoro and Shell own refineries in Northwest Washington, each of which has a capacity of at least 100,o00 barrels per day. Tacoma's U.S. Oil & Refining Co. has a capacity of 39,000 barrels per day.

This story will be updated.

Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick
Refinery Proposed Last Year for Columbia River, Records Show
Oregon Public Broadcasting, April 15, 2015

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation