Protesters lock selves to crane at PSE gas facility construction site

KOMO photo

TACOMA, Wash. - Two protesters have locked themselves to a crane and unfurled a banner Monday at the site of an 8 million-gallon liquefied natural gas storage facility under construction at the Port of Tacoma.

The activists say they are trying to halt construction of the Puget Sound Energy facility, which they believe will pose a danger to the region and to the global climate once it is built and in use.

Supporters of the protesters say the pair kayaked into the plant early Monday morning, climbed up the construction crane and tied themselves to it.

A rescue team of firefighters attempted to bring the protesters down from the crane, but were unsuccessful and have suspended their efforts for the time being. Tacoma police also responded but no arrests have made so far.

Stephen Way, one of the two protesters locked to the crane, says PSE lacks all the essential permits to build the facility, but has continued with construction anyway.

"If I tried to build an addition to my house without permits, the city of Tacoma would make me stop, and might require me to undo the work done. If a powerful corporation like PSE can get away with what is happening here, then the community has to take a stand,” he said in a prepared statement.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency earlier issued a notice of violation against the construction project following a stop work request by the Puyallup Tribe, which owns land adjacent to the gas storage facility.

But a spokesperson for the Clean Air Agency said the notice of violation does not require PSE to stop work on the plant. Instead, it requires the utility to submit a complete application for its air permit. PSE has now submitted a complete application and the Clean Air Agency is reviewing it.

The spokesperson said a civil penalty may eventually be assessed against PSE for starting construction before receiving a permit.

PSE says the liquefied gas storage facility will provide a cleaner type of fuel.

But opponents of the facility say it is a potential explosion hazard, risks polluting local air and water and adds to the threats posed by climate change.

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