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Rising Tide and Allies Shut Down Port of Vancouver

Portland Rising Tide North American - Monday, November 4th, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Vancouver and Portland Rising Tide are joining with other friends, allies, and activists in the Pacific Northwest to shut down the Port of Vancouver, Washington, right now in solidarity with the ILWU.

This from Portland Rising Tide’s Facebook page: “Good morning Port of Vancouver, if you can’t keep your grain terminal safe for workers, how can you make an oil terminal safe? You can’t so this morning Rising Tide is shutting you down!”

The ILWU has been locked out of a grain shipment terminal by United Grain. “United Grain and its Japanese owners at Mitsui have failed to negotiate in good faith with the men and women of the ILWU for months and instead chose to aggressively prepare for a lockout, spending enormous resources on an out-of-state security firm,” according to a statement made by ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent earlier this year.

On July 15, 2011, hundreds of ILWU protestors blockaded a mile-long train coming into the terminal in protest. The struggle has continued through numerous actions of resistance, including this June, when ILWU members blocked a transport van from leaving the port.

Today, the ILWU’s struggle in the area is spilling over into a new terminal as Rising Tide activists are calling out the unaccountable and irresponsible behavior of the Port of Vancouver in both the ILWU lockout and the approval of a new oil terminal. The terminal would process 380,000 barrels of oil coming in by rail from the Bakken shale and probably the tar sands.

Many activists have pointed to recent oil disasters, such as the explosion of an oil train in Lac-Megantic, Canada, that incinerated the entire town square.

Vancouver Rising Tide Member Kathy Lane explains, “These trains are a huge risk to our community and if the Port of Vancouver can’t even keep conditions safe for grain terminal workers, how can we expect an oil port run by a company with as terrible a record as Tesoro not to end in disaster? We can’t.”

Portland Rising Tide has kept the pressure on politicians and port officials through protests, grassroots organizing, and symbolic blockades, such as the widely publicized kayak blockade of the Columbia River on July 27 of this year in which over 1,000 people rallied against all of the proposed fossil fuel terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Participants took to the I-5 bridge and kayaks while three climbers rappelled from the bridge to unfurl a banner that read “Coal, Oil, Gas  / None Shall Pass”.

Although they did not play any role in today’s action, the local ILWU 4 chapter stands in solidarity with local community activists and Rising Tide in resisting a new Tesoro oil terminal illegally approved by the Port of Vancouver. Tesoro is responsible for  20,000 barrel oil spill in North Dakota last month and a preventable refinery explosion in April that left five workers dead, the local ILWU head testified at a hearing last week, so the safety of their workers would be jeopardized by the terminal. 

As well as defying environmentalists and labor, the Port of Vancouver has also violated the rights of Indigenous peoples by Columbia River Treaty tribes before approving the oil terminal.

“Even in the best case, even if there isn’t a spill or explosion for years, this terminal will lock us into our reliance on fossil fuels and climate chaos. Building this kind of infrastructure is fundamentally the wrong way to go, especially with public port land” said Portland Rising Tide member Mia Rebak.

The port shutdown is livestreaming here.