NW Innovation Works is proposing to construct and operate a methanol production plant on property owned by the Port of Kalama and leased to NW Innovation Works. The plant would manufacture methanol from natural gas. Natural gas will be delivered to the methanol plant by a new lateral distribution pipeline connected to an existing pipeline located east of Interstate 5. As part of the same development, the Port is proposing a new deep draft marine terminal facility to load methanol onto ships.  The port would own the marine terminal facility and it would be available to other users.

The Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County are co-lead agencies for the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process for this project.  Under this process, possible environmental impacts that may result from the construction and operation of a proposed project are identified and studied. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project was released on September 30, 2016 and is available here.

The Port and Northwest Innovation Works are also proceeding with additional environmental review of the greenhouse gas impact issue. The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) is available here.

The next step in the process is the preparation of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Nov 13 2018 – DSEIS released for public comment

May 8 2018 — Cowlitz County Superior Court reinstates Shoreline and Conditional Use Permits

Nov 20 2017 – Port of Kalama files appeal of Shoreline Hearings Board order

Sep 29 2017 – Shorelines Hearing Board Decision: Statement of Mark Wilson, Executive Director, Port of Kalama

Aug 24 2017 – Port of Kalama drops appeal to Shorelines Conditional Use Permit

Jun 29 2017 – Port of Kalama files appeal to Shoreline Conditional Use Permit

Jun 8 2017 – State  Department of Ecology approves Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility Use Permit

Jun 7 2017 – Methanol plant gets key permit



The project includes a methanol manufacturing facility and a marine terminal. The manufacturing facility would be built and operated by Northwest Innovation Works. The marine terminal would be owned by the port and used to load methanol onto ships. The terminal could also be used by other port customers.

The facility will be built on approximately 100 acres at the Port of Kalama’s North Port Marine Industrial Park. Two production lines will be built to accommodate reforming, methanol synthesis and distillation elements. Fourteen large non-pressurized tanks will be built to contain methanol during the production process and to hold finished product. The storage tanks will be encompassed by a containment wall that is seven feet high. A piping system will convey methanol from the bulk product storage tanks to the marine terminal. Natural gas will be supplied by Northwest Pipeline via a 3.1 mile pipeline from its mainline east of Kalama to the plant site.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Kalama Manufacturing and Marine Export Facilities is complete and available for public review. The environmental review’s purpose is to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the project and to identify measures that reduce or eliminate those impacts. The FEIS is available here.



Northwest Innovations Works is setting global environmental responsibility standards for manufacturing by implementing innovative technologies that protect our air and water.
Through the use of natural gas and implementation of Ultra Low Emission (ULE) technology, the Kalama facility will reduce carbon emissions by 90% compared to coal-to-methanol facilities. The impact of using natural gas and ULE together vs. coal-to-methanol is equivalent to removing over two million cars from our global environment annually. Source EPA public carbon footprint calculator)
Ultra-Low-Emissions (ULE) technology uses electricity and process-generated heat to power production. This process is
more energy efficient and uses less natural gas than traditional methods.
The Washington Department of Ecology designated the Kalama facility as a minor source of air emissions due to the use of natural gas and ULE technology. Southwest Washington Clean Air Authority will issue the permit. A minor source designation means the facility’s emissions will fall below major source regulatory thresholds.
Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) from the proposed methanol plant would be below the acceptable source impact level (ASIL) that Department of Ecology uses as a screening level. Although mobile emissions are not subject to the ASIL, the FEIS also compared potential ship emissions

to the DPM ASIL and found that ship emissions could exceed this screening level at uninhabited points in the river.
For that reason, the FEIS applies Ecology’s 2nd Tier review procedure to determine if those emissions could pose an unacceptable risk. This analysis concluded that the DPM emissions predicted in the river would not exceed Ecology’s acceptable risk level even if there were a residence there. The FEIS concludes that all DPM emissions will be below Ecology’s acceptable risk levels.
Visible steam plumes may occur when air enters the facility’s cooling towers at ambient temperatures and is warmer upon exit. The steam plume is a clean water vapor and may be more visible on humid days. Most of the time the plume will not extend beyond the facility boundary, but plumes could be as long as 4000 meters up to 17% of the time. Most of the time plume height would be less than 60 meters.
A flare system will be used for the safe disposal of gas during plant startups or shutdowns. The flare would be approximately 245 feet tall and two to three feet wide at the top. The flare would only be visible during infrequent startups and shutdowns at the facility. The flare does not emit a plume and is responsible for less than one percent of the plant emissions. As outlined in the FEIS, the worst case scenario is that the flare would be visible during fewer than 20 events per year.



Northwest Innovation Works announced it will implement Zero Liquid Dischargetechnology (ZLD) at the facility. The plant will not discharge water into the river. The process wastewater will be recycled and reused at the facility. As an additional benefit, this process will reduce the use of raw well water by over 150 million gallons annually.
The Port of Kalama developed water rights to support industry at the North Port Marine Terminal and Kalama River
Industrial Park over a decade ago. The port constructed the first well at North Port in 2004. About 15 million gallons of water per day are still available at the site for industry. The port will construct a new well, and sell about one-third of the available supply to Northwest Innovation Works for process water.

Northwest Innovation Works will purchase water from the City of Kalama for domestic use such as drinking and restrooms. The city sells potable water to all of the businesses located at the port.

The city collector well is on the Kalama River approximately 1.7 miles east of the site. The city water right equals over 3 million gallons per day, and current production and use is less than half at about 867,000 gallons per day. NWIW will purchase about 5,600 gallons of potable water per day — less than 1% of the amount currently produced by the city.



The FEIS took a careful look at the risk of damage in the event of a major geological event like an earthquake or volcanic eruption. See Chapter 3 of the FEIS for the full report.
Western Washington is an area susceptible to earthquakes. Due to the sandy soil present at the plant site, there is potential for liquefaction during a seismic event. Soil liquefaction can occur when a saturated or partially saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, usually earthquake shaking, causing it to behave like a liquid.

Modern engineering techniques and construction codes have evolved over time to address the risks posed by soil liquefaction. Any new industrial structure built in a seismic zone must be engineered to the anticipated worst case scenario seismic event for that location. In the case of the Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) facility, the anticipated worst case scenario is a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and design specifications must mitigate the risks associated with such an event.

NWIW’s engineers will be conducting more in-depth geotechnical investigations at the project site and using that information to select the best ground improvement technologies. One proven example of liquefaction mitigation is to construct stone columns. Stone columns are zones where gravel is forced into the existing soils using air and water, forming a grid of dense soil/gravel columns that extend through the liqueable soils. Additionally, throughout the facility, production is designed to automatically shut down during an abnormality, further minimizing risk during a seismic event.
The FEIS also looked at risks associated with the site’s proximity to Mount St. Helens. The site was unaffected by mud flows from the 1980 eruption of the mountain and there is an extremely low risk of a future eruption affecting the site.


The Columbia River is a national,treasure, valued Iocally for water resources, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and transportation. Protecting the river is paramount. FEIS consultants carefully studied issues related to the Columbia River.


The facility would result in 36 to 72 additional ships per year transiting the Columbia River. To provide context, approximately 1,581 cargo, passenger vessels, tank ships and articulated tug barge transited the river in 2014. The Columbia River ship channel functions like a highway with a 300-foot-wide lane in each direction. Vessel operations are regulated by state and federal agencies. Highly experienced local river pilots take navigational control of vessels from the entrance to the Columbia River to the dock. Tug boats provide ship assistance at the dock.

Typical large methanol tankers would have a cargo capacity of approximately 38.3 million gallons, according to Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW). They will be designed to safely carry methanol and will adhere to the latest standards for double-hulled tankers with 12 separate cargo tanks. Vessels will be loaded at less than capacity – approximately 30 million gallons – which provides more draft and keel clearance. It also provides a measure of safety by leaving excess cargo space to pump and store methanol if there is a rupture involving one of the 12 tanks.
The FEIS includes modeling that evaluates worst case accident scenarios specific to methanol ships on the Columbia River. A broadside collision with another ship was identified by experts as the worst case accident scenario. While the shipping channel generally does not allow room for large ships to become perpendicular to each other, it is possible.

The experts determined that such an extreme impact could breach both the outer and inner hull of one of the ship’s tanks. Such an accident has never occurred with a modern double hull tanker on the Columbia, and very few collisions have caused such damage anywhere in the world, but the model considered this possibility.
In the model such an accident could release a large volume of methanol to the river. Methanol evaporates, dilutes in the water and biodegrades quickly. The maximum concentration of methanol predicted by the model is well below levels that would kill fish and other aquatic organisms, although potentially fatal concentrations could occur during the spill at the point where the methanol enters the water. The model predicts that the methanol would rapidly decrease below levels that would have fatal or long term impact on fish.
The ships will have safety mechanisms in place in the event of an accident. In the worst case scenario model, some methanol would be contained in the ballast space between the tank and the hull. On board pumps would begin moving the remaining methanol from the damaged tank to other tanks to reduce spillage.
A new marine terminal to serve the methanol facility would be owned by the Port of Kalama. NWIW would pay more than $1 million a year to the port in dock and wharfage fees. And the dock would be made available to other shippers when it is not in use for NWIW.

The FEIS concludes the proposed project does not present any potential for serious or permanent injury outside of the facility boundary due a large release from methanol storage. AcuTech Consulting Group, a global safety risk management firm, conducted studies and produced the FEIS section on Environmental Health and Safety.
Methanol is also known as a wood alcohol. It can be made from virtually anything that is, or ever was, a plant. Methanol is flammable. Methanol stored at the facility would not be pressurized. In a worst case scenario, accidentally released methanol would pool within a lined containment area around storage tanks and, if ignited, could result in a short-term flash fire. But because the storage tanks would not be pressurized, there is no risk of a fire ball or Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE).
A worst-case methanol spill into the river would have some effects to marine life in the immediate vicinity of the spill. However, because of its properties (i.e., methanol readily mixes with water, evaporates in the atmosphere, and rapidly biodegrades), methanol would dissipate into the environment, and within fairly short distances from the spill would reach levels that would not threaten fish or other aquatic life.
Natural gas would be transported via a new 3.1 mile pipeline between the facility and the Northwest Pipeline mainline east of Kalama. Natural gas transmission pipelines continue to be safe and reliable. There are more than 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission lines in the U.S., and more than 2 million miles of distribution lines.


The facility operator would be the primary responder to all incidents in the methanol
manufacturing facility with Cowlitz County Fire District No. 5 providing support. The facility will have an extensive fire suppression system and on-site fire brigade, made up of staff trained to respond to fires, explosions, and injury. The brigade would be housed in anon-site fire station, which would also house the emergency response vehicle used by the brigade. Personnel would be certified in compliancewith OHSA standards, Process Safety Management guidelines, and NFPA requirements. In addition, emergency responders would maintain training and certification in all required areas.


Local Benefits


1,000 Laborers, electricians, welders, carpenters, ironworkers and administrative personnel needed to construct the facilities

$660M  Goods and services purchased locally, benefiting businesses and supporting more jobs


192 Number of jobs stated in the report, that the plant will support during operation

$109,000 Average compensation for employees at the plant

Other economic benefits include new revenue for the Port of Kalama which can be used for investment in new industrial and recreational facilities. Millions of tax dollars will be generated annually by the facility to benefit local and state governments.
Public Access
The port plans to improve public access to the Columbia River at the end of Tradewinds Road. There will be parking space for approximately 21 vehicles and improved access to the beach and informal trails.
Habitat Enhancements
The project includes these compensatory mitigation projects: removal of more than 150 creosote pilings; installation of engineered log jams that will provide cover and refuge for migrating juvenile salmonids; and shoreline restoration and enhancement.


What is Methanol?

From paints and plastics, furniture and carpeting, to car parts and windshield wash fluid, methanol is a chemical building block used in making hundreds of products.
Methanol is a clear liquid chemical that is water soluble and readily biodegradable. Methanol is comprised of four parts hydrogen, one-part oxygen and one-part carbon, and is the simplest member of a group of organic chemicals called alcohols. It is a stable biodegradable chemical that is produced and shipped around the globe every day for a number of industrial and commercial applications. Methanol occurs naturally in the environment, and quickly breaks down in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.



Port of Kalama
110 West Marine Drive
Kalama, WA 98625

Cowlitz County Building and Planning
207 Fourth Avenue North
Kelso, WA 98626

Kalama Public Library
312 North First
Kalama, WA 98625

Kelso Public Library
351 Three Rivers Drive, Suite 1263
Kelso, WA 98626

Longview Public Library
1600 Louisiana Street
Longview, WA 98632

Copies of the FEIS on CD may be requested from the port. Printed copies of the FEIS are available for a fee through the port.

An electronic copy of the FEIS is available at www.KalamaMfgFacilitySEPA.com.