Series of forums ‘The Coal Hard Truth’ this week

“Ships, Spills, and Sea Life: The Coal Hard Truth” will be presented at a series of forums in the San Juans.

North America’s largest coal shipping terminal could be built 10 miles northeast of San Juan County along the Strait of Georgia.

The proposed export facility would ship millions of pounds of coal from nearby Cherry Point — then through the waters of Haro and Rosario straits — on their way to places around the globe.

Cherry Point, a deepwater industrial port located near Ferndale, is roughly 15 miles west of Orcas Island.

The proposal is gaining steam as a hot topic in the San Juans.

County Marine Resources Committee Chairman Steve Ravella expects a broader discussion in the near future about the plans of the Seattle-based SSA Marine and its bid to build an expanded cargo facility at Cherry Point.

The permit requires state, federal and local approval in Whatcom County for the project to proceed.

Critics contend the project and a resulting increase in shipping will heighten the risk of an oil spill and have a negative impact on marine life across the region.

“It’s become a hot topic around the island,” Ravella said. “We’d like to pull together some kind of presentation with some information so we can learn more about it.”

In the meantime, islanders can find out more about the plans of SSA Marine during a “Coal Hard Truth” forum sponsored by REsources, a critic of the project.

A panel of experts will discuss the health and environmental consequences of the project proposal.

Forums will be held on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Island from 6 to 8 p.m. on the following dates.

Lopez Island: Feb. 7 at Lopez Center for Community and the Arts.

Orcas Island: Feb. 8 at the Eastsound Fire Hall.

San Juan Island: Feb. 9 at Friday Harbor High School Commons.

For more information on these events, visit or call (360) 733-8307.


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