More than 163,000 public comments have flooded the environmental review of the Millennium coal export terminal proposed for Longview, Wash.
That's the number of letters, emails, and statements read aloud at public meetings as of Friday. It exceeds the 125,000 comments agencies received on the environmental review of the Gateway Pacific coal export project in Bellingham, Wash., earlier this year.
Monday is the deadline for the public to comment on the Millennium project during this phase of the environmental review -- so the total could climb even higher, according to Linda Kent, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology. People can read all the comments online.
Ecology is one of three agencies taking comments on which environmental impacts they should study before permitting begins along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Cowlitz County. Kent said her agency hasn't set a timeline for reviewing all the comments.
“Obviously this is a large number of comments to review, so there is really not a specific set time frame," she said. "We’re going to be doing that as effectively and efficiently as we can.”
The Millennium project would export 44 million tons of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. It would receive coal by rail at a terminal in Longview, Wash., and transfer it onto vessels.
Many people have asked the agencies to consider the health impacts of coal dust and diesel emissions along the delivery route.
On Sunday, 160 Oregon and Washington physicians submitted comments asking the agencies to do a health impact assessment of the project as part of their environmental reviews.
Regna Merritt of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility says that makes for a total of 3,000 health professionals and advocates who have made similar requests in comments on the Millennium project.
Merritt said the comments submitted Sunday mirror those of a group called the Whatcom Docs, who asked for a health impact assessment on the Gateway Pacific coal export project in Bellingham.
Ecology announced earlier this year it would consider the health impacts in its environmental review of that coal export project.
“At the very least we need the same consideration for Longview," Merritt said.