Politics & Government

Comment period begins for proposed Tacoma methanol plant

Anyone interested in commenting on a proposed Tacoma Tideflats plant that would convert natural gas to methanol for export to China can do so at two public meetings next year.

The first meeting is Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, 1500 Broadway. Information about the project will be available there starting at 5 p.m.

The second meeting is tentatively slated for Feb. 16 in Northeast Tacoma, but the place and time have not been set.

The city of Tacoma will also accept written comments through Feb. 17.

The comment period and meetings will give members of the public a chance to tell the city what they think the scope of the project’s environmental review should be.

Based in part on comments, a city consultant will draft an Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comment as early as next summer. The EIS can include details about the project’s environmental impacts, job creation and tax revenues, costs to area neighborhoods, traffic counts, human health effects and more.

Northwest Innovation Works announced Wednesday that in response to concerns about the plant’s projected water use, company officials have found ways to treat and reuse wastewater at the facility. The change could reduce the plant’s water use 28 percent to approximately 7,200 gallons per minute. That’s less than half of what Tacoma Water’s residential customers together use on average.

The plant also will require a lot of power — up to 450 megawatts at its peak. Tacoma Power’s entire customer base used 543 megawatts on average in 2014.

Northwest Innovation Works signed a lease with the Port of Tacoma for 125 acres on the Tideflats last year. When at full production, the plant could create up to 20,000 metric tons of methanol per day, according to information from the city of Tacoma.

The Tacoma project is one of three the company is proposing in the Pacific Northwest. It has said the $3.4 billion project will create 1,000 jobs during peak construction and will require an estimated 260 permanent jobs once operational.

For more information on the project, visit cityoftacoma.org/planning and click on “Proposed Methanol Facility.” Email comments can be sent to tacoma.methanol.sepa@cityoftacoma.org.

Letters also can be mailed to planner Ian Munce at Tacoma’s Planning and Development Services Department, 747 Market St., Suite 345, Tacoma 98402.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports