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Environmental groups threaten to sue over oil terminal work

January 12, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two environmental groups are threatening to file suit against Zenith Energy over construction work at its oil terminal in Portland.

On Monday, Willamette Riverkeeper and Columbia Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue the company if it doesn’t get a stormwater permit within 60 days, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The Zenith Energy oil terminal in Northwest Portland receives crude oil from trains, stores it in tanks and sends it via pipes to outgoing ships. The company recently proposed upgrading its facility to handle biofuel, but it hasn’t gotten all the required permits to start the work.

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Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeeper, said the two Riverkeeper groups have documented land-clearing and grading at the proposed construction site that is not allowed under the Clean Water Act without a construction stormwater permit.

The company applied for a construction stormwater permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in June. The permit requires an additional approval from the City of Portland in the form of a land use compatibility statement, and the city hasn’t yet granted that approval.

The groups are concerned that the company is planning to expand its fossil fuel operations, though the Zenith maintains its upgrades are all focused on transporting biofuel.

Zenith declined to comment.