Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export FacilityNorthwest Innovation Works (NWIW) and the Port of Kalama are seeking to build and operate the Kalama Manufacturing Marine Export Facility - a proposed refinery and marine terminal to be constructed at the port to manufacture and export methanol primarily to China to make plastics. According to the project proponents, the refinery will produce up to 10,000 metric tons of methanol a day from natural gas.
Cowlitz County and the Port of Kalama led the environmental review of the proposed Kalama Manufacturing Marine Export Facility. In September 2016, the county and port released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.
Finishing the environmental review was an important step for the methanol refinery project.
On June 8, 2017, the Department of Ecology approved a shoreline conditional use permit and granted water quality certification tied to the Kalama proposal. We still have some more environmental permits to issue. The proposed Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility still needs a series of other local, state and federal permits and approvals to move forward.
Ecology provides comments on project's environmental review
The environmental review process for the proposed Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility identified and evaluated the project’s potential adverse environmental impacts. Ecology as well as other local and tribal governments and state and federal agencies provided comments on the final EIS.
Ecology's comments were designed to ensure:
Project requires local, state shoreline permit and water quality certification
Shortly after adopting the final EIS, Cowlitz County determined that Northwest Innovation Works and the port needed to get a shoreline conditional use permit since some of the proposed construction activities and relating dredging work would be located in and along the Columbia River. After the county approved the shoreline permit, the application came to Ecology for our state review.
We also had a request from Northwest Pipeline seeking water quality certification to construct and operate a new 3.1-mile section of pipeline to supply natural gas to the Kalama methanol plant since the new line would cross several streams and wetlands.
Shoreline permit and water quality certification granted with stringent conditions
While the Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility would avoid wastewater discharges to the adjacent Columbia River by relying on a system that reuses manufacturing process water, the refinery would emit up to 1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.
On June 8, 2017, Ecology approved the county’s shoreline permit but with stringent conditions that NWIW and the port must meet to protect the shoreline ecosystem and state water quality while requiring site-specific mitigation to offset environmental impacts.
Under the conditions of our shoreline permit, the Kalama methanol refinery will need to be built and operated in a way that offsets environmental impacts, reduces greenhouse gases, and meets state law to protect shoreline areas while allowing important water-dependent uses.
We required NWIW and the port to:
For the new 3.1-mile section of natural gas pipeline, we required Northwest Pipeline to first avoid negatively affecting water quality or put measures in place to offset any unavoidable adverse impacts.
NWIW and the port will also need to apply for a construction stormwater permit from Ecology. This permit, as well as additional local, state and federal permits and approvals, has yet to be issued.
Greenhouse gas reductions
Ecology’s shoreline permit requires NWIW to reduce or offset the refinery’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7 percent a year beginning the first full year of operation – and continue to reduce or offset these emissions at this rate until leveling off in 2035.
The company can achieve this by reducing emissions at the refinery, purchasing carbon credits, or by investing in or creating emission reduction projects in accordance with a mitigation plan approved by Ecology.
While it is unique for Ecology to address greenhouse gas emissions in a shoreline conditional use permit, when we evaluate these types of shoreline permits from local governments under the state Shoreline Management Act, we determine whether a proposed conditional use will cause significant adverse effects to the shoreline environmental where a project, structure or use is proposed.
We also have a duty to ensure that the public interest is protected, and that proposed projects and uses do not cause substantial harm to public health and the environment.
Under state law and Cowlitz County’s shoreline master program, the Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility is considered an allowable and legitimate water-dependent use as long as the project can meet environmental protection standards.
Ecology will still need to issue a construction stormwater permit from Ecology before the refinery project can be built. This permit, as well as additional local, state and federal permits and approvals, has yet to be issued.
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