ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT eagleWith a life of at least 80 years, the negative consequences of this project cannot be summarized on this page. This will obviously impact the environment at the mine site. Everything in the area will be destroyed. Jefferson County has designated portions of the mine site as a “susceptible aquifer recharge area.” Gravel mining has been known to damage aquifers by altering topography. Large scale excavation in this area will have an adverse impact on water runoff through this slide-prone area. Further, this watershed has great importance to wildlife (including endangered salmon) and the residents who depend on it. The beach at the site is designated a “Shoreline of Statewide Significance” and “Conservancy” in the Jefferson County Shoreline Master Program. The area is home to vast amounts of wildlife, such as eagles, osprey, herons, and hawks. The canal is also known regionally for the abundant shellfish here, and is home to many commercial shellfish farms.
TRAFFIC traffic One of the most significant impacts of the project is that it will limit regional accessibility. This operation will likely require opening the Hood Canal Bridge daily for marine traffic carrying the aggregate. The additional openings will obviously impact the DOT projection of 21,000 vehicles (including commercial trucks, commuters, tourists and medical services) the bridge will carry every day by 2006. Because maritime traffic has legal priority over vehicles the bridge MUST open when requested to do so by a vessel Captain. State officials have confirmed that bridge opening will be approved upon request without question.
BRIDGE & VESSEL ACCIDENTS Maneuvering such large, heavy vessels through or around the Hood Canal Bridge incurs great risk of vessel/bridge collision. Such an incident could damage or destroy the bridge, causing possible loss of life, environmental pollution, and the long-term isolation of communities and businesses on the Peninsula Coast Guard records document 1322 bridge/vessel accidents in the U.S. from 1992 through 2001. Including the 5/2/02 Webbers Falls, Oklahoma accident there have been 72 people killed and over 81 million dollars in damage. The data would seem to indicate the possibility of an accident occurring every 66 hours somewhere in the U.S. The transport ships will remain tied to the pier with their engines running while loading, which can take 12 hours or more depending on vessel size. The resulting air pollution from diesel fumes, noise pollution from machinery and loading operations, potential water pollution from oil and fuel spills, and the danger of introducing invasive species from ballast/bilge water or vessel bottoms, are just a few examples of environmental risks that will upset the balance of this fragile eco-system.
ECONOMICAL IMPACT The increase in traffic delays and congestion caused by the additional bridge openings will make both Jefferson and Clallam counties less desirable destinations. It will result in decreased property values, property tax revenue, tourism and regional business revenues. Large ships carrying loads of up to 60,000 tons of aggregate each constitute wholesale transactions (not retail) as the material will be re-sold in another form such as asphalt. Much of the gravel will be shipped out of state and no sales tax will be paid. The Department of Revenue has ruled that Jefferson County will not receive any additional tax revenue as a result of sales at the proposed pier. The Washington State Department of Revenue has ruled that FHM does not have the authority to charge sales tax on gravel at the point of origin.