Millennium Bulk Terminals - Longview Health Impact Assessment
UPDATE: The FINAL MBTL Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is now available. It may be accessed in the "Documents" tab to the left.
Link to Archived Information on the MBTL HIA Process HERE
What is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)?
An HIA is a process that helps evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented. An HIA can provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and minimize adverse health outcomes. It is not required by law and does not play a role in the decision to issue permits for a development project. An HIA is a public health tool that uses available technical and scientific information to help communities understand how plans, projects, and policies affect their health. An HIA can also make recommendations about how to maximize the likely health benefits and minimize the potential harms of a given project, plan, or policy. The HIA being prepared for the MBTL project will focus on neighborhoods near the MBTL project, as well as community facilities along the BNSF rail line in Cowlitz County.
How does the HIA compare to the SEPA EIS?
The SEPA EIS is required by law and analyzes potential impacts the MBTL project would have on environmental resources. The HIA evaluates effects the MBTL project would have on human health and quality of life in adjacent communities. Some analyses from the SEPA EIS may be used to inform the HIA—for example, by providing information about air quality, noise and vibration, and rail safety.
Who is preparing the HIA?
Cowlitz County's Building and Planning Department, with assistance from the Cowlitz County Health and Human Services Department and the Washington State Department of Health, will convene a Steering Committee made up of community members. The Steering Committee will identify what aspects of health should be addressed in the HIA. Experts in environmental health from the Washington State Department of Health, working with the HIA Team from Cowlitz County, will conduct the analysis and share results with the Steering Committee for their input. The Steering Committee will decide when the HIA is ready to be released to the public.
What is the HIA process?
There are six stages in a HIA process.²
1. Screening: (Complete)
Determine whether an HIA would add value to the decision-making process.
2. Scoping: (Complete)
Establish the team responsible for conducting the HIA and define roles. Determine which potential health impacts to evaluate, methods for analysis, and a work plan. Develop a stakeholder engagement plan.
Provide a profile of existing baseline health conditions and vulnerabilities. Evaluate potential health impacts, including direction, severity, magnitude, and likelihood.
Strategies to manage identified adverse health impacts, including mitigation and/or prevention of negative impacts as well as enhancement of health benefits and prioritization of recommendations.
Develop the HIA report. Communicate the findings and recommendations to public and stakeholders through publishing in a widely-available format.
6. Monitoring and Evaluation:
Impacts on decision-making processes and the final decision. Impacts of the decision on health determinants and outcomes.
³ Further details on standards for each of the assessment steps for HIA can be found in the Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment, available at: http://hiasociety.org/?p=547