SEPA stands for the State Environmental Policy Act. The SEPA review process identifies likely environmental impacts that may result from construction and operation of a proposed project. Information gathered during the review process helps agency decision-makers and the public understand how a proposal will affect the environment. The information can be used to change a proposal, to reduce likely impacts, or to condition or deny a proposal when adverse environmental impacts are identified. Public and agency input is an important part of the SEPA process.
What is an EIS?
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) documents the evaluation and analysis of alternatives, potential environmental impacts, and measures to reduce or eliminate those impacts.
Why did we prepare an EIS?
In March 2015, a team of technical analysts hired by the Port of Seattle completed an environmental review for the proposed rehabilitation of Terminal 5’s wharf and deepening of the adjacent berth area, which resulted in a determination of non-significance (DNS) under SEPA.
Following that determination, the Port of Seattle obtained additional information characterizing potential changes in Terminal 5 cargo operations. Based on this information and interest from neighboring communities, the Port decided an EIS should be prepared for the project. The DNS was withdrawn and a Determination of Significance (DS) was issued with a Notice of Scoping.
An EIS for the Terminal 5 Cargo Wharf Rehabilitation, Berth Deepening and Improvements Project (Terminal 5 Improvements Project) was prepared because the proposed project had the potential to result in significant adverse environmental impacts. An “impact” is something that changes, for positive or negative, as a result of an action. An EIS provides an objective analysis of the likely significant environmental impacts, feasible alternatives, and measures that would avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts.
The Port of Seattle completed the environmental analysis of the Terminal 5 Cargo Wharf Rehabilitation, Berth Deepening and Improvements Project and issued the Final EIS in October 2016. The Port of Seattle, acting as lead agency for environmental review of the project under SEPA, determined that the Final EIS is adequate and complies with the requirements of SEPA, Chapter 43.21C RCW, Chapter 197-11 WAC, and the Port SEPA Resolution 3650, as amended.
The Final EIS was used by the Port and regulatory agencies for decision-making regarding permits for the proposed project.
Reasonable mitigation measures are identified in the Final EIS to reduce the severity or seriousness of the impacts of construction and operations at Terminal 5. Mitigation regarding air, noise, and transportation were areas of particular interest to the community based on comments submitted during the public scoping period and during the Draft EIS comment period. See below for a summary of the mitigation for the Preferred Alternative.
Construction activities will comply with local, state, and federal air quality regulations requiring minimization of construction-related emissions.
Implementation of best management practices to reduce potential for air quality impacts during construction identified in FEIS Chapter 3, Section 3.2.
Require contractors to prohibit Tier 0 and Tier 1 off-road equipment, to have on-road fleet meet 2007 EPA engine standards or better, and to enforce an idle reduction plan.
Measures intended to reduce operational emissions (including greenhouse gas emissions) include:
Reduction of at-berth emissions from ocean-going vessels through the use of shore power. The NWSA, the Port, and the terminal operator will prepare a shore power utilization plan to meet projected shore power utilization levels.
Through the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, the NWSA implemented a plan to require trucks entering international container terminals to meet model-year 2007 EPA emissions standards in 2018.
Development of facility will utilize an electrical power supplier that obtains >90% of its power from non-fossil fuel sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions for terminal operations.
Operational management plans to reduce truck queuing and wait times, as outlined in required Queue Management Plan (Final EIS, Volume II, Appendix C) will reduce idling of diesel drayage vehicles.
The NWSA will analyze Terminal 5 air quality performance following resumption of container cargo operations to ensure air quality evaluations included in the EIS are consistent with operations. Data and analysis will be in consultation with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA).
Typical construction activities will be limited to between 7 AM and 10 PM weekdays and between 9 AM and 10 PM weekends and legal holidays.
Impact pile driving will be limited to between 8 AM and 5 PM weekdays and between 9 AM and 5 PM weekends and holidays.
Noise from all on-site construction activities will be subject to noise limits established by the City of Seattle.
The Port will develop a construction noise management plan prior to start of construction in consultation with the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (DCI).
Establish an Operational Noise Management Plan/Program to provide objective noise monitoring data and a mechanism to identify reasonable and feasible best practices to ensure compliance with applicable noise limits. The noise management program will include measurement, reporting, and compliance steps to meet applicable City of Seattle noise limits. The program will be developed in consultation with the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (DCI) (See Volume II, Appendix M, Operational Noise Management Plan).
Ensure that all mobile cargo handling equipment uses ambient-sensing, broadband safety alarms.
Addition of safety measures to the rail corridor between the bridge across the Duwamish and the terminal. Adding safety measures to the rail use area, including perimeter fencing and installation of crossing gates would reduce the need for locomotive horns. These measures have been used by the City of Seattle as a basis to begin the process of requesting this section of rail lines be converted into a railroad quiet zone.
Reduction in noise from on-vessel power generators due to the provision of shore power for moored vessels.
Best management practices (BMPs) for traffic control and safety during construction and adherence to SDOT permits and requirements. Coordination with other construction projects.
Prepare a Haul Route Plan and Traffic Control Plan for work in City right-of-way.
Coordinate with other construction projects in site vicinity.
Once T5 is fully operational, the north leg of the intersection at SW Spokane Street/West Marginal Way SW/Chelan Avenue SW will be closed. All traffic to and from Terminal 5, as well as local industrial businesses located north and east of the rail lines north of West Marginal Way Southwest, should be directed to use the Terminal 5 Access Bridge. Interim measures could convert surface access to entrance only and install advance notification signs.
When surface access is closed, alternative pedestrian access to T5 will be provided.
Comprehensive signal improvement along SW Spokane Street from Harbor Avenue SW to E Marginal Way S, including the signal at E Marginal Way S/S Hanford Street. This project should include upgrading the signal controller at the five-legged intersection and improving interconnection equipment, if needed.
Implement Gate Queue Management Plan.
Implement additional driver information systems including advance signage about rail blockages and add Terminal 5 to the NWSA’s Wait Time Awareness System.
Improve access for industrial business located north and east of rail lines serving Terminal 5 and West Seattle Rail Yard by providing additional lane on Terminal 5 Access Bridge, adding signage and striping along existing surface routes, and other measures.
Continue to work with SDOT on off-terminal truck parking.