The Seattle Department of Planning and Development has decided that leasing Terminal 5 to Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet falls outside the use specified by the Port of Seattle’s current shoreline permit, according to an announcement by Mayor Ed Murray this morning. The Port must now seek a new permit or appeal the decision. They also have the choice to reverse their earlier decision and vacate the lease, forcing Shell to go elsewhere.

The decision reinforces our ongoing lawsuit against the Port in partnership with Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, Seattle Audubon, and Washington Environmental Council, which charges that use of Terminal 5 as a homeport is different from the terminal’s historical use as a cargo port, and that the lease to Shell requires new permits and thorough environmental review.

As the only environmental organization on the water every week, Soundkeeper has witnessed firsthand how even small amounts of pollution create huge problems for the health of our local waterways. Shell’s Arctic ships have a history of polluted discharge and other violations, and welcoming those vessels to Terminal 5 without a proper environmental assessment is antithetical to our mission of protecting and preserving Puget Sound. We also are greatly concerned that the Port, which is taxpayer-funded, failed to allow for adequate public input when deciding to allow Shell’s vessels at Terminal 5.

We applaud the city’s decision and hope that it encourages the Port officials to reconsider their choice and move in a more positive direction. Setting precedent is never easy, but this is a chance for the Port to truly live up to its slogan “where a sustainable world is headed.”

If you’d like to take action on this issue, you can contact Mayor Murray and let him know you appreciate the city’s decision.

You can also contact your Port commissioners and urge them to vacate the lease, rather than pursuing a new permit.