Port Westward

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of coal exports

Port Westward is an industrial park located at the Port of St. Helens, which was created in 1940 in Columbia City, Oregon along the Columbia River. It is considered a deep water port. The port is located approximately 30 miles north of Portland, Oregon.

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Port Westward is being eyed as a potential coal export terminal.[1][2]


Proposed Northwest Coal Export Locations.
Coal Export Threatens the Northwest.

On May 2, 2012 Portland General Electric blocked Kinder Morgan’s multimillion-dollar proposal to construct a coal export terminal because of concerns over coal dust. PGE renewed a 99-year lease in 2008 on 852 acres of developable land at the Port of St. Helens-owned energy park near Clatskanie, Oregon. In turn, it can sublease the Port Westward property to other companies. However, in early May 2012 PGE denied the request by Kinder Morgan to construct a terminal on the site.[4]

Port of St. Helens potential candidate for coal export to Asia

In June 2011, The Oregonian reported that the Port of St. Helens in Columbia City, Oregon was being eyed as a potential Northwest port that would export coal to Asian countries. It was also reported that Columbia Riverkeeper, which opposes coal export, asked a judge to require St. Helens Port to release all of its coal-related documents. In a response, a lawyer for the port stated that doing so would violate a confidentiality agreement and "would result in the greatest harm to the public interest which can be imagined -- a loss of jobs in our community."[3]

Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, wrote in a statement to The Oregonian that the terminal "should not happen in the dead of night. We must have an open, vigorous public debate before any projects move forward."[3]

In January 2012 The Oregonian reported that Kinder Morgan Energy Partners would develop a dry bulk export terminal at the Port of St. Helens' Port Westward industrial park, using rail lines and building facilities to store and load coal.

Ambre Energy also announced that their subsidiary Pacific Transloading would ship 3.5 million metric tons of coal a year with potential to ship as much as 8 million metric tons with port approval. Coal would be shipped on covered barges, received at Port Westward and directly loaded onto about 50 ocean-going ships a year. Pacific Transloading would ship 3.5 million metric tons of coal a year with potential to ship as much as 8 million metric tons with port approval, the company stated.[5]

In January 2012 it was reported that the proposed coal terminal at Port Westward was forcing Rainier-area officials to examine whether they needed to expand rail lines through the heart of town to accommodate hundreds of rail cars daily.[6]

Port of St. Helens coal export proposal get approval

On January 25, 2012 Port of St. Helens commissioners approved lease options for two coal terminals to Port Westward. The five-member commission unanimously approved a lease option from Pacific Transloading, a subsidiary of Australian coal company Ambre Energy, to operate a coal barge unloading dock at Port Westward. Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a lease option from Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to build what could be the largest coal terminal on the U.S. West Coast.[2]

Oregon Gov. calls for review of coal export impacts

In April 2012 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stated that he wants an extensive federal government review of exporting coal to Asia through Northwest ports. The Governor said that coal exports could clog barge and train routes, increase diesel and coal dust pollution and boost amounts of toxic mercury drifting back to Oregon when Asian countries burn the coal.

However, Kitzhaber didn't take a stand for or against exporting coal, which supporters say would increase rural jobs and tax revenues in Oregon and Washington. Instead, his letter asked the federal government to address how increasing exports to Asia will "fit with the larger strategy of moving to a lower carbon future."[7]

Articles and Resources


  1. "Port of St. Helens" Port of St. Helens Homepage, accessed June 15, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Coal in Clatskanie: Commissioners approve 2 Port Westward export proposals" Erik Olson, The Daily News Online, January 26, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Port of St. Helens potential candidate for coal export to Asia" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, June 15, 2011.
  4. "EXCLUSIVE: PGE blocks major Oregon coal export project" South County Spotlight, Stover E Hanger III, May 2, 2012.
  5. "Two coal companies want to export coal through the Port of St. Helens" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, January 17, 2012.
  6. "Oregon officials ponder potential rail expansion for coal terminal" Erik Olson, TDN.com, January 19, 2012.
  7. "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber calls for sweeping review of planned coal exports from Northwest ports" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, April 25, 2012.

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