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Appeal hearing set for refinery permit

A public appeals hearing on a permit for a proposed oil refinery project has been set for Feb. 27 with the Skagit County Board of Commissioners.

The hearing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the commissioners hearing room, 1800 Continental Place in Mount Vernon.

The Andeavor Anacortes Refinery at March Point (formerly Tesoro) has proposed upgrading and building new equipment at its facility in order to extract the chemical compound xylene during the oil refining process for shipment overseas and reduce sulfur emissions from its fuel products.

The proposal, called the Clean Products Upgrade Project, has been through an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, and some of the permits needed for the project have been approved.

In December, a coalition of environmental groups appealed Skagit County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford’s approval of a shoreline substantial development permit for the project and his determination that the EIS for the project was sufficient.

The project has been contentious due largely to environmental, health and safety concerns of some members of the community.

Concerns have centered on a potential increase in tanker traffic — the refinery proposes five more vessel trips per month to ship xylene — and the danger xylene spills could pose to area communities and wildlife.

At the Feb. 27 hearing, Skagit County Planning Department staff, refinery representatives and members of the groups appealing the permit will each have a chance to speak. Each will also have a chance to respond to remarks from the others.

Skagit County Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Will Honea said the allotted time is for arguing the legality of Dufford’s decision to grant the permit.

No new information will be allowed, he said.

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