A controversial proposal to build the world’s largest methanol plant on Tacoma’s tideflats will be discussed at a free public presentation at the University of Puget Sound at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Kilworth Memorial Chapel.
Environmental activist Wilma Subra will present a talk entitled “Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Methanol Plants.” The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.
Hundreds of people packed the Tacoma Convention Center earlier this month to weigh in on the topic and learn about the environmental study that will be conducted by the city of Tacoma.
A Chinese-backed company called Northwest Innovation Works has proposed building a 125-acre, $3.4 billion production plant at the Port of Tacoma that would convert natural gas into methanol. The methanol would be transported by tanker trucks to China to be used in various products – like furniture, phones and more.
It is estimated that more than 10 million gallons of water would be used every day to make 20,000 metric tons of methanol a day.
The company signed a lease agreement with the port last spring. Construction expected to begin in late 2017 if the project progresses. It would bring about 1,000 construction jobs to the area, and 260 permanent jobs. Some people are excited about the prospect of a new large business coming to Tacoma.
However others are worried about the potential environmental and safety effects it could have on the area and its citizens, especially concerning air and water quality and the potential for explosions.
The talk at UPS is sponsored by the university’s Sound Policy Institute and The Sierra Club’s Tatoosh Group of Pierce County. The local chapter of the Sierra Club opposes the project.
“We hope to make this session on the proposed methanol plant an informative one and an opportunity for people in the community to get scientific answers to questions they may have,” said Daniel Sherman, director of the university’s Sound Policy Institute. “Wilma Subra is a respected environmental health evaluator, with broad experience in the field, and we welcome her observations and ideas.”
According to a press release from UPS, Subra is a MacArthur Genius Award winner who has been fighting for decades to protect the interests of Louisiana residents who live in an area dubbed “Cancer Alley,” along the Mississippi River. Clusters of cancer patients have been diagnosed in the region, with many blaming the nearby industrial plants.
She’s the founder of Subra Company, a chemistry laboratory and environmental consulting firm in Louisiana. The company works with community groups, providing technical research and evaluation of projects that could lead to environmental health concerns. She and local residents fought and successfully closed an oil waste incinerator in Louisiana that was using hazardous waste as fuel.
Subra has served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology and more. She also appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland, which focuses on U.S. communities affected by oil and gas fracking.
Other public meetings to know about:
* 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Tacoma Convention Center.
* 6:30 p.m., Feb. 16 at Meeker Middle School in Northwest Tacoma.
Learn more from the city website here.