Did anyone see that our downed trees from the Nisqually Valley are being shipped-off to multi-national corporations in Asia?
While we have known this has been happening for over a decade, the increase in clear-cutting around here as our logging assets are being shipped overseas for foreign corporations’ profits is, well, shocking!
Rolf Boone reported in The Olympian October 1st about the log exports being moved to Port of Olympia from Port of Tacoma, however that masked the issue of our wood assets all going overseas:
“Douglas fir trees, many of which date to the Kennedy administration, stand stately on hilltops near the town of Rainier. Soon they will begin a journey that takes them through Olympias streets, onto a ship at the port and, eventually, to a sawmill in Japan thousands of miles away.
“The highest-quality logs tend to go to Japan, where they will be used for post-and-beam home construction, while logs bound for China and South Korea are used in different applications. In China, logs are milled to make concrete forms, while South Korea uses the logs for packaging, such as for pallets, crates and wire spools.
Of the 18 to 20 log ships that typically visit the Port of Olympia each year, about 25 percent are bound for China and South Korea, Weyerhaeuser Olympia log yard manager Jon Seifert said. The rest go to Japan. on the ship.”
“Chugoku Mokuzai is Japans largest mill operator and Weyerhaeusers largest offshore customer. Chugokus Kashima plant, which opened in 2007 east of Tokyo, processes 200 million board feet a year.
Weyerhaeuser has been working with Chugoku since the early 1980s. Exports of larch, red pine and white spruce from the old Soviet Union had become too unreliable, so the company turned to Weyerhaeuser and its Douglas fir, which is popular for home-building because its stronger than other species and holds up well under the milling process. The company also processes domestic tree species unique to Japan, as well as products from Europe.”
“Weyerhaeusers log sales to China made up 24 percent of its overall offshore log sales in the first quarter of 2011; thats up from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Overall, U.S. log exports to China from the Pacific Northwest increased 270 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Port Commissioner Bill McGregor said that in addition to bringing in cash, the resurgence of log exports has given dockworkers more working hours at the port. A Port of Olympia study has shown that at least 400 jobs are associated with the movement of cargo, including logs, into and out of the port.”
“Activists continue to keep a watchful eye.
A group calling itself Olympians for Public Accountability recently sued the port, claiming violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Among its concerns was that the port allowed wash water from the Weyerhaeuser log-export operation to mix with stormwater in violation of the port stormwater discharge permit issued by the state Department of Ecology.
“The port and the group reached a settlement in which the group agreed to drop its two legal cases. In return, the port has agreed to pay OPA attorney and consultant fees of $215,000 and spend $120,000 toward a $180,000 project to restore Mission Creek in lower Budd Inlet.
Meanwhile, log ships continue to call on the Port of Olympia. On Monday [Oct. 3], the port expects the arrival of the Luzon Strait, a ship that will load about 5.8 million board feet of Weyerhaeuser logs, then deliver them to Lanshan, China, and Busan, South Korea. It will be the 20th ship to visit the port this year.”