$1.8 Billion Gas Conversion Plant Proposed for Old Kaiser Smelter Site

The Port of Tacoma could soon be welcoming a new $1.8 billion natural gas conversion plant to the Tide Flats.

The News Tribune reports that a multi-national group, made up of Asian and American investment partners, is proposing what would be the single largest ever investment made to build an industrial facility at the Port of Tacoma.

According to the TNT, the investment group - Northwest Innovation Works - would construct a facility to convert natural gas into methanol at the old Kaiser Aluminum smelter site near the Blair Waterway. The ethanol would be piped in via a branch off an existing pipeline, converted to a liquid form, and shipped to China, where it would be used in the production of plastics.

At least five years to build the plant. 1,000 construction jobs plus a couple hundred long-term employees when the plant opens. No incentives sought. Long-vacant property back on the tax rolls. 

The company claims the process will be relatively environmentally clean - emitting mostly water vapor. The Port says there will be minimal new infrastructure needed. Tacoma Fire is just beginning their assessment. Citizens for a Healthy Bay doesn't have a position yet.

It's far from a done deal. The last prospective investor in the Kaiser site backed out of plans to build a crude oil terminal after the project failed in feasibility studies last year. Like that project, NIW will be looking for an initial 18- to 24-month exploratory period, during which they will try to line up permits and feasibility studies.

Read more from the TNT.

What do you think?

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One word: plastics.  There’s a great future in plastics.  Think about it.

April 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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This proposal needs a lot of scrunity from air quality (particulates as well as chemical stink, any more of which is not acceptable), water quality, and explosion risk perspectives.  It’s not the kind of plant that should be casually sited near tens of thousands of residents.

April 26, 2014 at 8:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I can’t get behind a company that is “relatively environmentally clean - emitting mostly water vapor”—I am more than a little worried about the “relatively” and “mostly.” How charming, too, that the plant would enable China and the U.S. to make and buy more environmentally unfriendly plastic crap to clog our oceans and waterways, foul our air and soil, and poison our physical selves and our kids and pets. Making the world a better place, right?!

April 28, 2014 at 11:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Of course, China has always had their best interest in the United States.  Maybe we should also grant them 150 visas and allow them to also build a hotel near this proposed plant, which may share the same investors.  It always strikes me as amazing how people think that damage can only come in the form of physical danger.

April 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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But will it smell?

April 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Fantastic news!  This creates jobs in the US (particularly for those hardest hit by the recession whose skills may not match the needs of booming tech firms) and puts to good use a long under-utilized site.  We need more of this type of investment, responsibly made of course, to improve the livelihood of people in the region.  Rather than criticize and delay, let’s enable what could be a huge boost to the economy and the families of the region.

May 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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How long did it take to clean up the Superfund smelter site?  And now you want another hazardous chemical plant there?!  Isn’t there a bunch of condos there now too?

May 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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