Portland Mercury: Earthquakes Would Spill More Than 96 Million Gallons of Oil in Portland

In case you missed it, this week the Portland Mercury published an outstanding article titled “Industrial Hub in Northwest Portland Will Cause Catastrophic Oil Spill During Earthquake, Report Finds” analyzing the results of a report commissioned by the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability and City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Management.

In many respects, this information is not new and has been an argument against Zenith’s operations for a long time, but to see it laid out so clearly and methodically is both useful and extremely sobering.

Many of Portland’s industrial areas are built on liquefaction zones that would effectively turn into quicksand in the event of an earthquake. This would be bad under any circumstances, but when it comes to fossil fuel facilities, things get much, much worse.

We talk about bomb trains in reference to disasters like we saw five years ago in Mosier, Oregon, which involved eleven train cars derailing. According to the report, “tanks at the CEI Hub would release anywhere from 94 million to 194 million gallons of fuel and oil into the ground and Willamette River.” That’s a lot. Also a lot of it would immediately catch fire.

(For a background on the earthquake situation in the Pacific Northwest, see Kathryn Schulz’s authoritative New Yorker article “The Really Big One”. Don’t read it before bed.)

If the City of Portland does approve Zenith’s Land Use Compatibility Statement after seeing this report, they’ll be sending a message loud and clear about their priorities. Portland, its residents and the land we live on won’t be included.

About Austen Lethbridge-Scarl

Austen Lethbridge-Scarl (he/him) is the editor of the XRPDX newsletter. Besides climate issues, he focuses on racial justice, police abolition and antifascism.


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