County, Port of Kalama reach deal on environmental review for methanol plant

Bill Wagner, October 23, 2014, The Daily News

Northwest Innovation Works’ plans for a $1.8 billion methanol plant at the Port of Kalama nudged forward again this week.


Cowlitz County commissioners and port agreed to conduct a joint environmental review of the proposed methanol refinery. The agreement defines the responsibilities of each party, how decisions will be made, how conflicts would be resolved and, if necessary, how the agreement would be canceled.


The actual environmental impact study will be conduited by Northwest Innovation’s Seattle-based consultant, Berger ABAM. The county-port agreement relates to reviewing the document, holding public meetings and tending to other legal and administrative tasks associated with the study.


Port of Kalama spokeswoman Liz Newman said the Port will pay the county up to $30,000 for its participation in the review. Newman said the port would additionally be paying for all mailings, notices and public meetings related to the environmental review.


NW Innovation Works says it expects to employ nearly 1,000 construction workers to build the plant and 240 permanent workers at full capacity. Northwest is also is proposing two essentially identical plants at Port Westward near Clatskanie and at the Port of Tacoma.


NW Innovation plans to bring natural gas — the raw material needed to make methanol — to the Kalama site through a 3.1-mile-long pipeline that links to the main north-south pipeline that runs through Cowlitz County. The plant will convert the natural gas into methanol, which will be shipped to China. Methanol is used to make olefin, a key ingredient in manufacturing plastics for products such as water bottles and boots.


Northwest Innovation has hired Seattle-based consultants BergerABAM to assist with the studies and design work needed to submit permit applications to local, state and federal government agencies.


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