SEPA stands for the State Environmental Policy Act. The SEPA review process identifies likely adverse environmental impacts that may result from construction and operation of a proposed project. Information gathered during the review process helps agency decision-makers and the public understand how a proposal will likely affect the environment. The information can be used to change a proposal, to reduce likely adverse environmental impacts, or to condition or deny a proposal when the likely adverse environmental impacts are identified. Public and agency input is an important part of the SEPA process.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) documents the evaluation and analysis of alternatives, potential likely adverse environmental impacts, and likely mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate those impacts.
In March 2015, a team of technical analysts hired by the Port of Seattle completed an environmental review for the proposed rehabilitation of Terminal 5's wharf and deepening of the adjacent berth area which resulted in a determination of non-significance (DNS) under SEPA.
Following that determination, the Port of Seattle obtained additional information characterizing potential changes in Terminal 5 cargo operations. Based on this information, the Port decided an EIS should be prepared for the improvements. The DNS was withdrawn and a Determination of Significance (DS) was issued with a Notice of Scoping.
An EIS for the Terminal 5 Cargo Wharf Rehabilitation, Berth Deepening and Improvements Project (Terminal 5 Improvements Project) has been prepared because the proposed project has the potential to result in significant adverse environmental impacts. An "impact" is something that changes, for positive or negative, as a result of an action. An EIS provides an objective analysis of the likely significant environmental impacts, feasible alternatives, and measures that would avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts.
Scoping was the first step in the EIS process. During scoping, the Port invited agencies, tribes, and the general public to comment on the likely range of alternatives and areas of impact to be evaluated for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project. Scoping occurred between October 22, 2015 and November 23, 2015. Forty-eight members of the public attended a public scoping meeting on November 12, 2015. Three written comments were received and seventeen speakers provided oral comment at the scoping meeting. Seventy-nine comments were received via email or via the online open house website. A total of ninety-six comments were received during the scoping process.
With scoping complete, a Draft EIS was prepared. The Draft EIS was informed by the public and agency scoping comments. The Draft EIS became available for review on Monday, May 23. The public comment period closed on Friday, July 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM after the original 30-day comment period was extended by 17 days.
Two public hearings were held during the comment period. The dates and locations of the public hearings were as follows:
Georgetown Campus, South Seattle Community College (presentation at 6:15 PM)
Alki Masonic Center (presentation at 6:15 PM)
The Port of Seattle has completed the environmental analysis of the Terminal 5 Cargo Wharf Rehabilitation, Berth Deepening and Improvements Project (Project) and is issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (Volumes 1 and 2) for the Project. The Port of Seattle, acting as lead agency for environmental review of the Project under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), has determined that the FEIS is adequate and complies with the requirements of SEPA, Chapter 43.21C RCW, Chapter 197-11 WAC, and the Port SEPA Resolution 3650, as amended.
The Final EIS will be used by the Port and regulatory agencies for decision-making regarding permits for the proposed project.