NWIW Halts Methanol Plant Development in Tacoma

We're just going to leave this press release right here ...

NWIW Ends Development Options at Port of Tacoma

Continues job investment and environmental responsibility at other two sites

TACOMA - Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) is terminating its lease for a site on the tide flats with the Port of Tacoma. After careful review and evaluation during the pause of the environmental review process, the company met with Port staff to deliver the news this morning.

“While we do not see a way forward with the Port of Tacoma to realize this vision at this location, we remain committed to building facilities that offer a cleaner way to make products necessary for daily life, and to investing billions in local communities in the Pacific Northwest,” said Vee Godley, NWIW President. “We thank the Port of Tacoma Commissioners and staff for their consideration and interest, as well as the many business and community members who demonstrated their support for our project.  We also want to thank the people of Tacoma for their consideration of our project.”

NWIW’s decision to terminate the lease centered on the following business considerations particular to the Port of Tacoma site.

The first consideration is associated with the land. While taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars to remediate the former smelter site, it remains polluted to this day. Only careful planning, additional research, and the right regulatory approach would allow the development of a heavy industrial use on such a site. Developing that approach has taken longer than anticipated, and the process currently in place to resolve pending questions promises still to be a long one.

Secondly, there is inadequate time to conduct necessary due diligence and environmental analysis. Under the terms of the current lease, NWIW must complete a comprehensive due diligence and environmental review process by April 30. Underlying issues with the former smelter site will require a specific regulatory approach which, though underway, would take significantly more time to fully develop. Those questions, coupled with the robust reviews necessary under the SEPA process, would require several more years of analysis.

“Given what we now know about the site and the process going forward, we estimate that we would need at least three more years of development activities to perform the necessary due diligence, public process, and environmental analysis,” Godley said. NWIW had been prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars to identify and analyze the potential environmental impacts of the proposed facility and their responsible mitigation.

“Accountability and transparency are important,” said Godley. “Given sufficient time, we believe we would have been able to satisfy most of the local citizens’ concerns and questions through the public participation process, and correct a lot of the misinformation swirling about regarding potential impacts of our project.” NWIW cited public concerns when asking for a pause in the environmental review process.

Finally, the site at the Port of Tacoma is zoned for this type of proposed business, and NWIW has not asked for variances to this. However, various proposals to change the regulatory requirements for this site have injected additional risk into the process.

NWIW is developing the same type of production facility in Kalama, Wash. as was proposed in Tacoma. NWIW has announced its decision to use Ultra-Low Emissions (ULE) reforming technology as part of its ongoing commitment to be the most environmentally responsible methanol producer in the world. “Kalama’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) demonstrates the clear improvement our technology selection makes in reducing carbon emissions and provides much of the empirical data and analysis that many project opponents have demanded,” said Godley.

“On behalf of NWIW, I want to extend special thanks to the women and men in the local building trades, and the business leaders who have shared our vision for a safe, environmentally responsible industrial future for our region,” said Godley. “We look forward to working with them on our other projects.”

The company remains committed to development of sites in Kalama and St. Helens, Ore., and to the environmental and economic benefits they represent regionally and globally.


So, what is the future of Tacoma's industrial port properties?

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Save Tacoma Water

This project brought home the need to protect Tacoma’s source of water from over-development and the indiscriminate use by large industrial users. To minimize the risk of such a project threatening our community again, our group will continue its efforts to establish The People’s Right to Water Protection Ordinance through citizens initiative. http://www.SaveTacomaWater.org

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

April 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

12 | 3

Jeff Richardson

We need downtown jobs but this plan served no one. Glad to see popular action work for a change.

April 19, 2016 at 7:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

9 | 2


What’s the future?  Here’s a radical idea for a port: shipping.

Polluting industry down there will just make it harder to grow the employment base downtown.  The Chamber’s advocacy for this project was amazingly short-sighted.

April 20, 2016 at 5:40 am / Reply / Quote and reply

9 | 0


I am glad this is done.  Thank you to all the people who were involved; it’s not easy fighting Goliath.

As for the future of the Port, I agree with talus.  I would think the Port would eventually be more concentrated in the east section of the tide-flats and have it’s growth along the new 167 corridor.  Tilt-up buildings, storage facilities, light industrial, and warehouses do not NEED to be on the water at a deep water Port.

If I’m dreaming, I would say the west side of the port, the one between the Foss and the Puyallup river, would end up developed and the mouth of the Puyallup, especially everything north of the 11th street bridge, restored.  It would be cool to create an inner harbor between the two bridges to create more water frontage and new water views for downtown properties on the hillside.  It would create a physical and psychological barrier between the Port and downtown as well.  (I get that it’s a total pipe-dream that I will never live to see…)

April 20, 2016 at 7:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 0

honeydew slausen

talus: being short-sighted is what the Chamber does.

This project was incompatible with the City’s goals of redeveloping downtown. It is hard enough to attract office space downtown, but who would invest millions in such a tower when the views the building would offer would be of the world’s largest methanol plant and its enormous cloud of polluted steam?

Now is the time that the City and Port need to get together and jointly develop a plan for the valuable industrial property the port owns that is compatible with the City’s downtown plans and the community’s desires which have just been rather clearly expressed.

April 20, 2016 at 8:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

9 | 0


I guess China will have to keep using coal.

April 20, 2016 at 7:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

screw all fossil fuel products up the pipeline hole!  http://www.thriceallamerican.com/articles/252/another-waterfront-ballclub-option

April 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 1


Great idea. How about ship building at the port.The ones with real sails for environmentally friendly transportation like they had during the great age of sail.Add bicycle manufacturing and Velomobile manufacturing shops too.

Petroleum fuels will be depleted before the end of the 21st century and probably will be scarce by the mid 21st century.
The murderous and environmentally destructive age of the automobile will be happily over.
Someone suggested (I don’t know who) a solar manufacturing plant and that would be a wise transition because of a projected energy poor future

April 21, 2016 at 8:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0


I can’t tell if you’re a troll, a parodist, or an actual insane person. Well done or get help.

May 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 2


Turn it into a temporary site for a soccer field.  Meanwhile, if the Port of Tacoma fails to adequately address drainage problems at that site after heavy rainfalls, watch out that the site might soon be categorized as a wetlands for frogs and Canada geese by the federal government and be deemed unavailable for any kind of development.  Seriously, turn it into a soccer field for now.  There are lots of big lights to illuminate the area from nearby shipping terminals and plentiful parking.  Meanwhile, maybe it is right for the Port of Tacoma to “bank” that land for future waterfront-related industrial uses not foreseen right now.  The biggest risk from the proposed methanol plant had not been the potential danger of industrial accidents but the grab for natural resources (city water and city light) that, while perhaps lessening China’s dependence on coal, would have possibly made residential ratepayers in of Tacoma Public Utilities second-class citizens to the priority needs of a hulking factory.  Water is so scarce in this region that Bellevue and nearby cities, aware that they could no longer rely on Seattle’s municipal water system for their needs, have had to secure glacier water in Pierce County’s Lake Tapps for their future hydration needs.  There is a danger the methanol plant could have severely strained Tacoma’s municipal water resources, which are also shared with south King County cities, like Federal Way, which also opposed the plant. So, turn the site into a soccer field, for now.

April 28, 2016 at 9:40 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0

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