Find it, foul it, forget it
That is the proven mantra of the fossil fuels industry that has done more harm to the people and planetary systems that support us than any other human activity including war. Our county is firmly in their sights, and will be in their dirty hands if we allow hazardous rail or road cargoes to expand in our county.
As a forestland owner near Highway 30 who is familiar with forest fires, the risk of an explosion and/or derailment is troubling. We have seen recent fire devastation in the area, and these highly flammable cargoes routinely detonate.
A single oil or other flammable liquid railcar has energy equivalent to over 2 million sticks of dynamite (5E12 joules); although it is not released the same way, we must be aware of what we are running through our neighborhoods, towns and rural forested areas. This chemical resource belongs to the citizens of the United States and is being taken from us and shipped to competing countries so a corrupt industry can continue to trade harm to all for money for the few.
Oil train usage in the U.S. has increased 40 times since 2008, and the result is more accidents and pollution. Sabotage is a known threat.
Local politicians — wake up! The people of the county do not want this activity along our roads and neighborhoods. Each politician may find their lives and reputations destroy-
ed, and they will be reviled forever
if there is even one serious acci-
Port Westward is not just about agricultural land, although that is very important. What economic activities perform best under risk/benefit analysis? Shipping these cargoes through our county is like being the middle-man in a violent theft ring. We can and should avoid it — Port Westward is a Trojan Horse.
Mr. Iverson publicly states "no replacement for fossil fuels. "If that term was modified to "fossil chemicals" he would be correct. It took 300 million years for Earth to produce those useful chemicals, and we destroy them at 2 million times the rate that they can regenerate. Each day, we throw away the amount that the Earth can produce in 5,000 years under ideal conditions that no longer exist. Those chemicals will be far more valuable 50, 100, and 1,000 years from now, and our children would benefit far more.
Mr Avent, a real estate developer, ignores the fact that home prices within a half-mile of hazardous tracks lose 10 percent of their value, and pay higher insurance premiums, if they can get insurance at all. Living near the transport of hazardous cargoes does not equate to overall economic or safety benefits for our county. Neither the rail companies or Global Partners LP have anywhere near the needed insurance.
Both Port and county officials need to look at viable alternatives for economic benefit. I urge local citizens to suggest ways we can benefit from the Port Westward site without killing the golden goose. That may include ignoring it as a heavy shipping port and using it instead as a tourism area, giving access to the forests that are slowly improving after devastation by another rapist industry.
SOLVE clean-up of Multnomah Channel a success
It was great to see people working hard last Saturday, Sept. 16, to clean up the Multnomah Channel. More than 34 volunteers used kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, power boats, tugboats and barges, trucks and trailers, and walked along the shorelines to remove trash between Sauvie Island (Happy Rock Moorage) and Chapman Landing in Scappoose.
Volunteers included Boy Scouts earning merit badges (Scappoose Troop 294), citizens who live on or near the river (including the Paradise Moorage owner, Jeff Ingebrigsten), tugboat owners and citizens who just wanted to do a good service for the river and our community.
They removed 2,620 pounds of trash, not including an estimated 500 pounds of recycled material (plastic, glass and steel) and 16 tires. The trash included a refrigerator, sofa bed frame, toilet with associated piping, 20 large styrofoam floatation blocks, smaller styrofoam chunks, boots and flip-flops, coolers, backpacks, fishing gear, carpeting, lots of plastic bags, cans and bottles, and other litter washed up on the shorelines.
Volunteers helped to register participants, collect trash, operate tugboats, load barges, unload, sort out recyclables, and haul trash away. Some of the styrofoam was picked up and recycled rather than taken to a landfill (thanks to Agilyx Recycling Center).
A potluck was held at the Paradise Moorage clubhouse to celebrate after a hard day of work.
Hats off to SOLVE (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism), which provided organizational help, gloves, bags, long-handled grabbers and a grant to help defray costs.
A big thank you goes out to the local organizers, Lacen Horter (Sauvie Island cleanup coordinator) and Coleen Belisle (Johnson's Landing cleanup coordinator), and to all of the volunteers who went way beyond the call of duty.
Sauvie Island firworks display was out of line
On Saturday, Sept. 16, a commercial fireworks display was held on Sauvie Island, 15 minutes from downtown Portland. This egregious error in judgement, which occurred during one of the worst fire seasons the state of Oregon has ever had, was permitted by the Sauvie Island Fire Department, of which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is represented by Mr. Mark Nebecker.
Mr. Nebecker is intimately aware of the controversy the fireworks display has invoked in the past as last year citizen complaints were overwhelming due to safety concerns. This year, terrified citizens called 911 to no avail, as they were told the fire department approved the display.
DFW Director Curt Melcher, although your agency may have unlimited resources to fight a wildland fire on your property, that does not diminish the damage and the potential devastation to surrounding private property and the largest city park in America, Forest Park.
To be clear, Forest Park is less than one mile from the fire works display. One mile!
The inaction of your employee and representative is a disservice to Sauvie Island residents and all Oregonians who would be affected by this potential catastrophe. Your agency should be ashamed.
County commissioners need to listen to the
people, not dirty money
Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money — Cree Indian proverb.
In a past letter I mentioned that only 1.1 percent of our county is in cultivated crops and only 3.94 percent is in hay or pasture, as opposed to 7.67 percent in urban and industrial lands. We presently have more urban and industrial lands than we have in agriculture.
It would appear that our county leaders seem to value corporate /money over local agri-businesses.
I would like to point out some things that you may not be aware of. In the Beaver Drainage District we have over 600 acres in blueberries and over 200 acres in mint and other crops. Our two largest blueberry growers presently employ over 60 people. Our one mint producer employs 22 people just in its candy operation alone, with plans to expand the existing workforce.
All of these would be considered environmentally healthy, clean jobs. Our ag business employees live and work in the local community and most all of the money they earn is returned to the local economy.
The proposed oil storage and transfer operation and methanol/ethanol refineries will, thanks to automation, require minimal employees. Many of these people will live in Washington and may not have to move to the Clatskanie area. The products produced by these industries are for export and not for local or U.S. consumption.
It would also appear that little has been mentioned about the results of an oil or alcohol spill. Potential point or non-point pollution from some of these industrial activities can cause major harm. Because of tidal influences, a spill can have the potential of polluting the Columbia River from its estuary to Bonneville Dam.
Transportation to Port Westward is by a single rail line. The proposed transportation plan suggests an average of five unit trains a day, with a possible allowance of 10 a day. This traffic will have a severe impact on Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier, and could very well create a danger to public safety. In addition to rail, the existing roads within Port Westward have poor load-bearing capability, and the Quincy-Mayger Road is located in an active slide area.
Port Westward is in both an enterprise zone and an urban renewal district. That means until the urban renewal bonds are paid off, all property taxes paid will remain in the urban renewal district and will not, and cannot, be spent on schools or local governments.
The Beaver/Port Westward area has some of the last unique agricultural ground remaining in our county. The majority of our other agricultural lands are disappearing as a result of urbanizations and surface mining activities.
You need to ask yourself what is more important: losing a large number of local clean agricultural jobs or replacing them with a few people who are involved in dirty industries?
The Columbia County Planning Commission voted last year to deny this zone change and an appeal to the state Land Use Board of Appeals also supported their vote.
I would hope that you, as county commissioners, will listen to the voice of the people instead of the false promise of tenuous corporate money.
Columbia City Celebration defined community spirit
I want to thank everyone in our community who contributed to the fantastic success of the Columbia City Celebration last Saturday.
This event defined community spirit!
Everybody who worked on organizing the event was a volunteer. The breakfast and the lunch were cooked and served by volunteers including members of the city council and staff. Every one of the fabulous craft vendors lives in Columbia County and they all hand-made their crafts here in Columbia County. All of the wonderful items in the silent auction
were donated by businesses and individuals from Columbia County, and
of our car show sponsors came
from businesses here in Columbia County.
The booths of the Community Preparedness Fair were staffed by the same volunteers who will be among our first responders in the event of a large-scale emergency. Even the Society for Creative Anachronism, which provided some very unique entertainment during the event, are a local group. Literally, this event could not have happened without the whole community supporting it. And in return, 100 percent of the net proceeds of this event go to support the Columbia City Community Library, a free, all-volunteer library with over 14,000 books and 1,200 DVDs available at no cost to every citizen of Columbia County.
Thank you all, and I sure hope we see you again next year!
2017 Celebration Coordinator