AmericasEnvironmentPorts and Logistics

Judge says challenge to Port of Seattle’s Shell terminal lease can go ahead

Seattle: There are enough grounds for a case to go ahead challenging a lease by which a Port of Seattle terminal would become a mooring station for Shell’s Arctic fleet. That was the decision on Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman

A week after hearing motions, Spearman ruled that the lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups to prevent the deal signed between the port and Foss Maritime, can proceed. Foss’s client is Royal Dutch Shell, which plans to base its Arctic fleet there.

The coalition’s lawyer argued the court should vacate the lease because basing Shell’s fleet at Terminal 5 would fundamentally change its use as a cargo terminal and that would require a new environmental review. Going ahead with the lease in absence of an environmental review, the motion claimed, would be in violation of the State Environmental Policy Act and the Shoreline Management Act

The port has maintained it is exempt from conducting another environmental review because Terminal 5 will still be used as a cargo terminal.

There will not be a trial, jury or depositions. The judge will decide whether the port acted arbitrarily, capriciously or illegally when it relied on this exemption.

Port of Seattle chief executive Theodore Fick signed the lease with Foss Maritime on February 9. Foss will pay $13.17 million over two years to use 50 acres of the 156-acre terminal.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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