Whatcom County reaches agreement on unpermitted Petrogas facility expansion


Whatcom County and Petrogas West LLC have agreed on a permitting pathway for Petrogas Ferndale Terminal after the Cherry Point facility was found to have expanded without necessary permits.

The county will require Petrogas to obtain the permits it failed to and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), according to a March 8 press release. The EIS will evaluate facility modifications and changes in the amount of product throughput since the last SEPA evaluation for the plant was completed in 2016.

Whatcom County Planning and Development Services director Mark Personius said in a statement that the county has reached an agreement with Petrogas on a compliance process to address changes made at its Cherry Point plant. 

“The path forward will allow the public to participate in a transparent public review of permit applications and to provide comment on preparation of a full environmental impact statement under the state’s SEPA process, including evaluation of appropriate conditions for the facility,” Personius said.

In January, Petrogas agreed to pay $4 million and make operational changes to its Cherry Point facility after the Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) alleged that the facility had undertaken projects without obtaining required permits and reporting emissions.

AltaGas, an energy infrastructure company based in Calgary, Alberta, took over controlling interest of Petrogas in December 2020. Through emissions self-disclosures submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NWCAA in May 2021, AltaGas notified both agencies that it had found an unpermitted venting of volatile organic compounds at the facility, The Northern Light previously reported.

NWCAA notified Whatcom County, and both agencies conducted investigations.

The facility is the only operating liquefied petroleum gas export terminal on the west coast, according to Petrogas.

Petrogas retains its right to formally dispute the county’s determinations, but the parties have agreed on a permitting path forward in a good faith attempt to bring the facility into compliance with Whatcom County regulations and avoid costly litigation. According to the county’s statement, the permitting and SEPA compliance processes will follow standard county procedures and open to public participation.


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