Portland, Ore. – Local climate change activists are taking new action this morning, staging an unprecedented 60-hour long vigil, at the Zenith Energy Terminal in Northwest Portland. The two and a half day long protest is set to start around 7am. FM News 101 stopped by the protest site at 7:45 a.m. and found only security guards. Last week, several groups of volunteers presented City Council members with almost 7,000 signatures from Portland residents, calling on the city to stop Zenith Energy from using the city as a transport hub for crude oil.
Read more from organizers here:
Thousands urge the Mayor and City Council to Stop Zenith Energy From Using Portland as a Transportation Hub for Crude Oil
This morning Mayor Wheeler and the City Commissioners were presented with petitions with almost 7,000 names calling for the City to stop Zenith Energy from using Portland as a transportation hub for crude oil.“The City of Portland is committing a crime against our generations by allowing Zenith to operate in our city for this long.“ said Dineen O’Rourke of 350PDX and Ella Shriner of the Portland Youth Climate Council.”
Together they added, “We need you to take risks that seem unimaginable for a City Government to do. That is what these times demand of us. We need you to accept that you could be sued by this company and take the risk anyway. Is the threat of thousands of Portlanders being instantly vaporized by an oil train derailment greater than the threat of a lawsuit? What are our lives and our futures worth to you?”
The 7,000 petitioners ask the City of Portland to act in accordance with the City’s policy of opposing oil trains through Portland and the City’s ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure,and to issue an immediate stop work order on Zenith Energy’s operations, construction and expansion. Petitioners also ask the City to deny any upcoming permits, appeals and exemptions for Zenith’s facility and to place an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure in the City of Portland.
In April of this year six environmental organizations sent Mayor Wheeler and Portland City Commissioners a letter with a similar request urging immediate action on the Zenith terminal and broader fossil fuel policy.
The petition drive was initiated in June by The Stop Zenith Coalition to inform and educate the public about Zenith’s activities and to gather grassroots support to stop Portland from becoming a crude oil transport hub.
Zenith executives have falsely claimed to the City of Portland that their facility on the Willamette River was not handling tar sands crude or shipping petroleum products to other ports. Currently Zenith claims it is permitted to bring in up to two trains per week, each a mile long, with 100 cars loaded with crude oil that contain concentrations of flammable and toxic compounds.
Crude oil from tar sands in Canada comes by rail through our neighborhoods and is piped from Zenith under NW Front Avenue and into ships on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Risks include accidents that can cause fire blasts, spills into our rivers and increased diesel emissions with the up to 200 rail cars a week passing through Portland putting the North, Northeast and Northwest Portland neighborhoods at greater health risks from asthma and other air borne lung diseases. The contents of each car also contribute to the increase in global CO2 emissions.
The Zenith facility is also located on an earthquake liquefaction zone that in the case of an earthquake would damage storage facilities and potentially cause fire blasts and spillage into the Willamette.
Think of the petition presentation as the Climate Strike Week Opening Act!
Other acts targeting the crude oil shipments by Zenith include an unprecedented 60-hour Vigil at the Zenith Energy Crude Oil Terminal, 5501 NW Front Avenue, from 7 AM Tuesday, September 24 to 7 PM Thursday, September 26. A “Night of Illumination” is featured from 6-8 PM on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
The Stop Zenith Collaborative is a group of volunteers from groups including 350PDX, Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeepers, Center for Sustainable Economy, OPAL Environmental Justice, Neighbors for Clean Air, SW HOPE, Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Friends of the Gorge, Stand Up to Oil, Sunrise PDX, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Portland Youth Climate Council, Stop Fracked Gas/PDX, Climate Reality Project, Cully Association of Neighbors, Climate Action Coalition, Raging Grannies