RedLine Tacoma

Methanol Refinery Risks

WA Natural Hazards Viewer Application—Department of Natural Resources

This is an interactive way to view the site hazards relevant to the Port of Tacoma. Here are some examples of maps adapted from the DNR’s screenshot download feature:

Liquefaction Suceptibility

“Liquefaction is a phenomenon where saturated sand and silt take on the characteristics of a liquid during the intense shaking of an earthquake. The highest hazard areas are concentrated in regions of man-made landfill, especially fill that was placed many decades ago in areas that were once submerged bay floor.”
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
RLT_WaDNRGeology_Liquefaction Suceptibility

Lahar Hazards

“Lahar is an Indonesian term that describes a hot or cold mixture of water and rock fragments flowing down the slopes of a volcano and (or) river valleys. When moving, a lahar looks like a mass of wet concrete that carries rock debris ranging in size from clay to boulders more than 10 m in diameter.”
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
RLT_WaDNRGeology_Lahar Hazards

Seismogenic Features 

“A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth’s crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other.”
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

“A geological fold occurs when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation. Synsedimentary folds are those due to slumping of sedimentary material before it is lithified. Folds in rocks vary in size from microscopic crinkles to mountain-sized folds. They occur singly as isolated folds and in extensive fold trains of different sizes, on a variety of scales.”

Helpful Links


Earthquake and Tsunami Risk on Cascadia Subduction Zone

CNN Video: The quake-maker you’ve never heard of: Cascadia

Hydraulic Fracturing—Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the method used to extract the liquefied natural gas (LNG) that would be piped to the methanol plant from Canada and/or the northern plains states.

Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing
United States Environmental Protection Agency

Home Values

Environmental Health Risks and Housing Values: Evidence from 1600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings
Submitted by researchers from Princeton University;University of California, Berkeley; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology



What issues inform our opposition to the proposed methanol refinery?

Water Consumption
The refinery would place an unquenchable demand on local resources: more than 3 billion gallons of water per year.

Electricity Usage
The proposed refinery is projected to use 450 Megawatts of power annually, equal to 83% of Tacoma Public Utilities’ entire customer demand in 2014. This is enough to power 350,000-400,000 homes.

Air Pollution
The proposed refinery could release cancer-causing toxins and produce alarming amounts of greenhouse gases.

Inherent Dangers
Methanol is toxic, highly volatile and a risk for spills, leaks, fires or explosions. 300,000 metric tons would be stored in above ground storage tanks.

Natural Disaster Risks
The proposed site is located in a hazard zone for earthquakes, tsunami and lahars from volcanic eruption.

Negative Economic Impacts
Residents are concerned about decreased home values, increased homeowner insurance rates, loss of business and businesses, and exodus of creative and academic classes.

Contribution to Climate Change
The fracking, transportation, production, shipping and end products show potential to release harmful, powerful greenhouses gasses that contribute to climate change.

Perpetuation of the Fossil Fuel Industry
Building more fossil fuel infrastructure delays energy independence, delays innovations in renewable energy, damages the environment in the extraction process, and continues to produces greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.

Fracked Gas
The refinery would process 525 million cubic feet/day.
Plastics Pollution The end product is olefins used to make plastics.

Refinery Owner’s Lack of History
Northwest Innovations Works LLC has never built a methanol refinery.