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Proposed rail-to-ship crude oil terminal biggest yet in region

Port of Vancouver USA
The proposed Tesoro/Savage crude oil terminal would be built on this rail loop at the Port of Vancouver, Washington on the Columbia River.

Oil refiner Tesoro and a terminal operating company named Savage detailed plans Thursday for the biggest crude oil shipping terminal to be proposed in the Northwest.  

The proposed terminal, which would be located on the Columbia River at the Port of Vancouver in Washington, would receive crude by rail from oil fields in North Dakota and the like. The oil would then be transferred onto oceangoing tankers for delivery to West Coast refineries.

Tesoro vice president Mark Smith told port commissioners this could replace more expensive foreign crude imports with cheaper domestic supply.

“This revolution in U.S. production is just amazing. It's going to help us push out these foreign sources of oil and replace them,” Smith said.

But after Smith and fellow executives finished their presentation, it became clear they face opposition. A string of environmentalists stepped forward to warn of the risk of oil spills, both from train derailments and possible tanker accidents.

This project is one of five rail-to-ship crude oil terminals in various stages of review around the Northwest.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.