River pilot Anne McIntyre boards vessels that are longer than skyscrapers are tall and navigates them with precision through the Columbia River’s narrow channels. If coal export terminals are built along the river, McIntyre could find herself navigating bulk carriers laden with coal.
Pilots’ main purpose once was to move cargo and protect ships, she says. Since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, their priority has been protecting the environment.
McIntyre has never seen a collision or spill in her 16 years. The way she sees it, the risk of a coal spill is no more than that of a grain spill. If a ship were to run aground, the coal would be in hatches above the water line.
audio by Katie Campbell and Cassandra Profita
photography by Katie Campbell and Cassandra Profita
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