A coalition of five conservation organizations has filed a lawsuit today against the Port of Seattle and the Port Commissioners, challenging the port’s entry into a lease with Foss Maritime to open Terminal 5 to Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet without public proceedings or environmental review, the coalition’s representative Earthjustice says in a release.
The lawsuit charges that the lease will change the use of Terminal 5 by converting it into a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet, which will need extensive maintenance and repairs after being battered in the Arctic conditions.
According to Earthjustice, the lease would allow Shell’s drill ships to be housed at the port, including the Noble Discoverer, which was the subject of 8 felony convictions and over USD 12 million in fines and community service last December, including for discharging oil-contaminated water in violation of water pollution laws.
The lawsuit charges that the port has violated its long-range plans and its shoreline permit, which designate Terminal 5 as a cargo terminal, not a homeport, and that it needed to conduct a public review of the environmental and community impacts of making this change.
Earthjustice filed the challenge in King County Superior Court on behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, The Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and Seattle Audubon Society. The coalition has asked the court to vacate the lease because the port reportedly violated the State Environmental Policy Act, its own rules, and the Shoreline Management Act.
”By making a secret deal to house Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet in Seattle, the port shut out the public and subverted laws that are designed to foster an informed public assessment of controversial proposals like this one,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Patti Goldman.
Citing both the environmental impacts of leaking oil and repairing damaged vessels and lack of public process, the groups had previously asked the Port Commissioners to block the lease via a letter dated January 28, 2015.