Activists blocked the three gates at the construction site of Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Tacoma Tideflats on Monday as the self-identified “water protectors” vow to step up demonstrations of the facility over environmental and safety concerns.
The latest action came after two of six protesters who chained themselves to a construction auger last summer were found not guilty of trespassing and obstruction charges following a jury trial and two other protesters climbed a crane for nine hours to stop construction, albeit temporarily. A group of protesters also blocked the gates for several hours last week by climbing onto tripods they had erected to block the roadway into the construction site.
The estimated 200 protestors at Monday’s “Block the Gate” demonstration included members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Redline Tacoma, Tacoma Direct Action and other environmental groups. The action halted construction at the site for much of the day, before Tacoma Police officers broke up the demonstration. Two were arrested for misdemeanor charges and later released, pending formal charges.
PSE wants to build the $310 million facility to provide a lower-emissions alternative to diesel used by container ships, namely nearby TOTE ships to and from Alaska. The eight million-gallon facility would freeze natural gas so that it becomes a liquid for use in container ships as well as provide storage of natural gas for use by PSE gas customers during extreme weather spikes.
The Puyallup Tribe has fought against the plant for years, dating back to challenges of the plant’s environmental review over questions of how construction at the former Superfund site could potentially leach toxins into the waterway and threaten salmon runs.