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Port, environmentalists square off over Harbor Island

Posted at 8:33 PM, May 07, 2019

PORT ARANSAS – Concerned over the Port’s proposed development projects on Harbor Island, environmentalists are gearing up for a fight with the Port of Corpus Christi.

The Port is currently building a crude export terminal, and storage facility on Harbor Island.  There’s also dredging the ship channel and a potential desalination plant.  The Port Aransas Conservancy says enough is enough.

Conservancy members believe the combined environmental impact of those projects will be severe.  Even more so If oil were to spill.  Port CEO Sean Strawbridge says he can’t guarantee there won’t ever be a spill at Harbor Island, but steps are being taken to prevent that from happening.

“This will be the safest, most responsible crude export terminal in the entire country,” said Strawbridge.

Opponents, however, aren’t convinced.

“That’s just ridiculous,” said John Donovan of the Port Aransas Conservancy.  “There is no responsible, safe way to do this; it will be ecologically damaging.”

In addition to their environmental concerns, members of the Port Aransas Conservancy believe that added industry on Harbor Island would be an eyesore and would hurt tourism here.

Roberts Point Park sits across the channel from Harbor Island, a popular spot for Port A’s 3,500 residents, and countless visitors.

“We get 5,000,000 visitors a year, tourists,” said Donovan.  “They’re basically eco-tourists; they go there to fish, they go to the beach, they go for birding.”

Strawbridge, however, feels like the Port is being singled out.  He points to the fact that Harbor Island was used industrially for decades, long before the Port-owned property there.

“Half of Harbor Island is already being used for industrial use,” said Strawbridge.  “There are three large semi-submersible oil drill rigs that are there, they don’t seem to be causing a lot of problems.”

Strawbridge pointed out several people who’ve voiced opposition aren’t long-term Port A residents.

Conservancy members say it shouldn’t matter how long they’ve lived there.  They also say they’re keeping all options open at this point, including potential legal action against the Port.