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Columbia Riverkeeper: Documents show refinery planned for Longview

Washington oil refinery plan draws criticism from group

The documents show that Riverside Refining LLC wants to partner with the Port of Longview to build the largest new refinery in the United States since 1976. The refinery would bring oil into the region by rail and pass through dozens of cities

The area for the proposed refinery is just east of the Lewis and Clark Bridge, but the chief executive officer for the Port of Longview said the proposal made public now is one of several they deal with on an ongoing basis.

“There are no plans to build an oil refinery. There are proposals that people are asking us to take a look at and we are looking at them, but no decision has been made,” said Port of Longview CEO Geir-Eilif Kalhagen.

The proposal made public by the nonprofit Columbia Riverkeeper is for a facility that would process close to 30,000 barrels of oil per day into diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. It was rejected as it’s written, but the port continues to talk with the company.

“There are different versions of that we’re presently looking at,” Kalhagen said. “So the whole concept of dealing with these people and looking at what they have to offer is still viable.”

That is something people, like Dan Serres from the Columbia Riverkeeper, don’t want to hear.

“That means more exploding oil trains coming down the Columbia River,” he said.

Environmentalists main concern is increased traffic along the rails and the transport of raw, and potentially explosive Bakken crude oil, through the area.

“Watching what’s happening around North America with these oil trains as they derail and explode and cause pollution, by adding more oil trains you’re adding to that risk,” Serres said. “It’s like putting more bullets in the gun while you’re playing Russian Roulette.”

In Oregon, Bakken crude oil is transported by rail through Columbia County to a bio-refinery at Port Westward, north of Clatskanie. The oil is then transported onto barges for transport to oil refineries.

Columbia Riverkeeper has been an outspoken opponent of hauling volatile oil on rail cars through communities along the Columbia River.

Kalhagen said the Port of Longview looks at energy proposals. If one is approved, he said, it would then be passed on to the commission for public scrutiny.

Editor's note: This story originally appeared on the KOIN 6 News website.