Federal Way leaders express concerns about proposed Tacoma methanol plant
Fears over potential health and safety impacts the proposed Tacoma methanol refinery may have on surrounding communities has led lawmakers to introduce legislation aimed at addressing those concerns.
Rep. Linda Kochmar, R-Federal Way, sponsored House Bill 2980, which would prohibit the siting of certain facilities that could jeopardize air quality in areas that have historically failed to meet air quality standards.
“Since the proposed siting of the plant, I've heard from a number of constituents and local officials concerned about potential safety concerns that could be exacerbated by locating a methanol plant in the area,” said Kochmar. “Methanol is highly flammable and moderately toxic, and it's important we approach siting this facility and others proposed throughout the Pacific Northwest with caution.”
Methanol production can emit volatile organic compounds, which are precursors to ozone, a criteria pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.
Rep. Teri Hickel, R-Federal Way, who co-sponsored the bill, is concerned about the impact the refinery could have on local wildlife.
“Our pristine Puget Sound is home to so much different wildlife. This proposed plant would be near the Hylebos estuary in Commencement Bay, which runs all the way to Federal Way and is home to spawning salmon, said Hickel. “It would have a terrible impact not only in terms of toxins and unhealthy emissions to our community, but one mistake could also wipe out much of the habitat. That would be devastating to the Puget Sound.”
Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell called a special meeting of the Federal Way City Council to hear public testimony about the proposed plant. The meeting will take place Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. at Federal Way City Hall.
“The placement of the proposed methanol plant so near our city's border is concerning to me,” said Ferrell. “I am closely monitoring this situation and urge officials from the city and Port of Tacoma to reconsider allowing this potentially dangerous facility.”
Two other methanol refineries have been proposed in the Cascadia region – one in Kalama, Washington and the other in Clatskanie, Oregon.
###Washington State House Republican Communications