Shell Puget Sound Refinery (PSR)

The Shell Puget Sound Refinery (PSR) proposes to construct and operate a rail unloading facility at the Shell PSR facility on March Point near Anacortes, Washington in Skagit County. The proposed project includes building a rail spur from the existing adjacent Anacortes Subdivision onto the Shell PSR property to accommodate unit trains transporting Bakken crude oil from the mid-continent area.

Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) helps state and local agencies identify possible environmental impacts that could result from development projects or government decisions. For this purpose, an Environmental Impact Statement was undertaken. The purpose of the draft EIS is to provide an impartial analysis of the proposed project. The draft EIS includes information about the proposed project, its potential environmental impacts, and what could be done to avoid or minimize those impacts.

RPS was contracted by HDR Inc. to provide computational modeling, technical assistance, and serve as a co-author on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which assessed the potential risks associated with shipments of crude-by-rail in Washington State.

The work focused on answering four questions regarding a rail accident in Washington State.

  • What is the probability of an accident and release of oil from a proposed project train?
  • What are the potential consequences following an oil spill?
  • What is the probability and what are the potential consequences of a release that results in a fire or explosion?
  • What are the potential economic consequences of an oil release, fire, or explosion?

Environmental Research Consulting conducted a probability assessment focused on quantifying the probability of a crude-by-rail accident, the frequency of release, and the volume of oil that may enter the environment. RPS addressed the potential consequences of a release of oil into the environment using oil spill trajectory, fate, and effects modeling. Risknology, Inc. focused on characterizing the frequency and potential consequences of a release that resulted in a fire or explosion. Finally, HDR Inc. identified the potential economic consequences of an oil release, fire, or explosion.

Oil spill release scenarios were developed to characterize the range of potential impacts from a number of environmental and oil spill release conditions. Understanding the potential trajectory of crude oil within the environment and its ultimate fate was necessary to identify the potential impacts. Results were also be used to inform planning and response efforts. Oil spill release scenarios were defined by release location, release volume, and environmental conditions. Under the direction of the co-lead agencies, relatively low probability, high-impact accidents (i.e., large volume releases) were modeled to better understand the maximum potential consequences of a more extreme event. These results provide the upper range of estimates of consequence in the unlikely event that there is a large volume release of oil.

The modeling conducted by RPS was used to support evaluation of the ecological and human health risks resulting from hypothetical releases of crude oil into aquatic environments from the proposed unit trains traveling on BNSF railway lines to the Shell PSR.

The draft EIS was released to the public for comment and review in October 2016.

RPS uses its model systems to provide a range of services to industry and government clients, including oil spill risk assessments (OSRP, EIA, NEBA, RA) and expert testimony. Visit our web site to see the full range of services and software solutions provided.

March Point near Anacortes, WA
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