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Seaport Plant Modernization Project

Decision Final – LU20-0107


The City of Tacoma issued the Shoreline Permit Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on November 30, 2023. The decision is final as of January 5, 2024.


The Shoreline Permit is approved, subject to conditions. The results of the FEIS found that there are adverse impacts to air quality with respect to greenhouse gases, water quality with respect to endangered species, and traffic safety with respect to construction impacts. Mitigation under the FEIS is required to address those impacts and will be added as conditions to upcoming development permits.

Work at the site is expected to start in the spring of 2024, and must be underway by January 5, 2026.


The documents related to the decision can be accessed through the City’s permitting system here: https://aca-prod.accela.com/TACOMA/Default.aspx.  Documents are located under the “Record Info” tab.



SeaPort Sound Terminal, LLC (SeaPort Sound) is proposing to demolish existing refinery equipment and replace it with new storage tanks and appurtenances at the SeaPort Sound Terminal located on the Hylebos Waterway at 2628 Marine View Drive in Tacoma, Washington (see site plan linked below). The SeaPort Sound Plant Modernization Project (Project) includes demolition of existing refinery equipment, installation of new storage tanks and containment system, as well as wastewater and stormwater improvements. The purpose of the Project is to replace aging refinery infrastructure with new storage tanks and associated safety and environmental protection measures to meet functional, operational, and environmental needs at the terminal.


The current storage capacity in the refinery area is approximately 15,000 barrels; the new tanks would have a capacity of about 181,000 barrels of diesel, bio-diesel, and other fuel oils. The storage increase is roughly a 10% increase over the full capacity at the site. The applicant is not seeking an increase in overall throughput for the facility.


PDS initially issued a preliminary determination of nonsignificance in August of 2020. Based on public comment, and on the provisions of the Washington Administrative Code, PDS withdrew that preliminary determination and issued a Determination of Significance.



Agencies, affected tribes, and members of the public were invited to comment on the scope of the EIS. PDS used the scoping comments, as well as comments on the preliminary SEPA determination, to define the topics that are examined in the project EIS.


Frequently Asked Questions


Has permitting decisions been made about the SeaPort Sound Terminal Project?

No permit decisions have been made regarding the proposal. Public noticing timelines and procedures are adopted in TMC 13.05 following state law for permit processing and review.


Planning and Development Services issued a Notice of Availability for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on November 10, 2022 to solicit public comments until December 15, 2022. The City is required to respond to all comments received on the DEIS and include responses in the Final EIS (FEIS).


The FEIS will be posted on the City’s web page and a notice of decision on the associated Shoreline Permit will be mailed or emailed to all parties.  The FEIS would be appealable along with the shoreline permit – to the State Shorelines Hearings Board.


What can the City consider when reviewing permit applications?

The City is required to consider the permit application in accordance with the Zoning Code, Critical Areas Code and all other development codes. This includes consideration of probable significant impacts in accordance with the SEPA regulations.


Will the Tideflats Permanent Interim Regulations impact the SeaPort Sound Terminal Application?

This permit was deemed complete and is “vested” to the regulations and policies in place as of July 8, 2020. Any regulations or policies adopted since that time are not applicable, which would include the Tideflats Permanent Interim Regulations.



Can regulations be changed to prohibit the SeaPort Sound Terminal Project?

The project is legally “vested” in the current regulations via complete land use permits, and future moratoria or land use ordinance changes will not affect it.  Future regulations, such as any new laws adopted per the Tideflats Subarea Plan, are unlikely to affect legally established activities.



What is SEPA?

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is part of the State Code RCW 43.21c and has implementing rules located in the WAC 197-11. The implementation includes a public process, which allows review and comment from both reviewing agencies and members of the community at large.


SEPA is a tool Washington State and local jurisdictions in Washington State use to identify, assess, and review environmental impacts for proposed projects that have probable environmental impacts at the earliest point possible. SEPA authority can be used to modify, condition, or deny a proposal when impacts are identified.


Why does SEPA review happen?

SEPA was created to identify environmental impacts of a project and modify or mitigate those impacts by placing conditions on the project. Modification can occur through project changes and prior decisions can be adopted and/or amended to address project revisions. Mitigation can be achieved through conditions that address the identified impact and must be based on adopted policy, plans, rules or regulations and must be reasonable and capable of being accomplished.



When does the City of Tacoma implement SEPA?

The Agency that makes the decision that SEPA should be implemented (Lead Agency) is responsible for doing the environmental analysis. Analysis includes review and commenting from other agencies and the public and issuing the final environmental determination for a proposal.

The Lead Agency does not necessarily have authority over all aspects of a project and may not be the sole permitting and inspecting authority. Other agencies may also require additional or further environmental review or analysis, monitoring and enforcement of compliance with regulations.



Is SEPA its own permit?

No, SEPA is an environmental review process used by jurisdictions in review of projects that have requested a permit to help make permitting decisions. A proposal still has to meet all building codes and regulations. SEPA conditions can be enforced when they are applied to a permit.



Can SEPA stop a project from being permitted?

Usually, no, SEPA review will not stop a project from being permitted. SEPA can inform mitigation and can result in project modifications, but it is not a way to arbitrarily change or deny a proposal: any changes to a proposal must be based in adopted policy.


Once the final determination has been issued and appeal periods completed, the SEPA review is complete.


Can SEPA decisions be appealed?

Yes, there is an appeal process. The process is available here.


How can I make comments for SEPA reviews?

Comments should be specific and mention your individual concerns. Comments that are vague or advocate for an outcome on the permit application are not useful as the City is limited on the conditions it can impose.




Shirley Schultz, AICP

Principal Planner

Planning and Development Services




Final EIS