A series of public meetings about a proposed coal export terminal kicked off Thursday night in Boardman.
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality hosted the meeting to take comments and answer questions about permits required for the proposed Morrow Pacific Project. It would transport coal by train to the eastern Oregon port city. The coal would then be barged down the Columbia River and eventually shipped to Asia.
Around 200 people came with questions for department officials. How would the department handle a barge fire? Had it ever received complaints of coal dust?
Boardman resident Donald Gratin supports the terminal. He says eastern Oregon needs jobs and doesn’t believe environmental concerns are accurate.
“We hear all this about what’s going to happen to Hood River and The Dalles. We’re talking covered barges. It’s not gonna happen.”
Supporters waved their hands in the air when they liked someone’s statement. Environmental advocates voiced concerns about coal dust and climate change, at one point pulling out a bucket of coal dust to underscore that point.
The Department of Environmental Quality will hold two more meetings this week: One today in Clatskanie, and one Thursday in Portland.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio