The Environment

Environmental Responsibility

The Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) will be built and operated to meet Washington’s stringent environmental standards.

The Gateway Pacific Terminal will be a new, highly efficient shipping terminal to expand America’s exports of dry bulk commodities. Proposed by PIT, LLC., the terminal will meet our state’s stringent environmental standards while providing a major boost to the region’s economy, creating at full capacity 4,400 construction jobs, 1,250 permanent family-wage jobs, and $140 million a year in economic benefits.

The site of the Gateway Pacific Terminal, located between an aluminum smelter and an oil refinery, has long been zoned for water–dependent heavy industry. Because of its naturally deep moorage, there is no need to dredge to accommodate large ships. Commodities to be shipped from the terminal will be stored half a mile from the shoreline.

Protecting Natural Habitat

One of the highest priorities at GPT is to protect or restore the site’s natural habitat. While 75 percent of the 1,500 acre site will remain in open space and natural buffers, GPT is taking special precautions to protect wildlife habitat during the terminal’s construction and operation.  Following are specific examples:

1. On-site Stormwater Treatment

Stormwater runoff will be captured and treated in the facility’s on–site water treatment facility. A portion of the treated water will be recycled for use at the terminal and the remainder will be slowly released back into the environment through natural drainages to benefit wetlands on the site and help protect against erosion and sedimentation.

2. Wetlands Preservation

As part of the EIS process, specialists have catalogued the wetlands on the property so that any wetlands disturbed during the construction or operation of the terminal can be restored or replaced. The goal is to improve the ecology of the watershed and help restore natural systems such as the existing saltwater marsh and its tributary creek.

3. Wharf Placement and Design

The wharf has been located to minimize its impact on marine life and habitat. For example, the access trestle will cross over the water from above the bluff, leaving the bluff in its natural state and ecological function. To ensure that the maximum amount of light reaches the water beneath the wharf, GPT tracked sunlight and artificial light penetration, mapped the shadow pattern beneath the wharf, and aligned it to maximize the amount of natural light reaching the water.

In addition, the wharf and trestle will be constructed of concrete and steel to reduce marine environmental impact.

4. Covered and Enclosed Conveyors

All materials will be unloaded in an enclosed structure with a negative pressure dust collection system. Material movement over land outside of storage areas will be in covered conveyors; over water the conveyors will be enclosed.

5. Marine Life

Impacts on marine life at Cherry Point have been extensively studied and will be examined further during the environmental review process. The state and federal EIS will thoroughly evaluate potential impacts on wildlife and wetlands, and mitigation for unavoidable impacts will be developed as part of the permitting process.

The GPT will develop an operations plan to minimize effects on the marine ecosystem and species such as herring and salmon. Project construction will also be timed to reduce impacts on herring populations during spawning seasons and to safeguard commercial, Tribal and recreational fishing seasons. In addition, ships calling from overseas will be required to discharge their ballast water at least 200 miles offshore to prevent the introduction of non-native species into local waters.

6. Herring

A major environmental focus of the GPT project is the herring that spawn near the wharf site. These herring are part of a larger population that stretches along 4,500 miles of coastline. The Pacific Herring population was studied by local academics, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. A key conclusion was that declines in the local herring population appear to be due to natural factors rather than industrial activity in the area of Cherry Point. The terminal will be designed with safeguards to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the project on the herring and its marine environment.