The controversial proposal to build the world’s largest methanol plant on Tacoma’s Tideflats will be critiqued at a free public presentation by environmental chemist and activist Wilma Subra.
Subra will give the talk “Environmental and Human Health Impacts of
Methanol Plants,” starting at
6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in Kilworth
Memorial Chapel, on campus.
Subra, a MacArthur Genius Award winner, 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.
In Tacoma, a Chinese-backed company called Northwest Innovation Works
has proposed building a plant on the Port of Tacoma that would convert
natural gas, delivered to the site by an underground pipe, into
methanol. The flammable liquid would be taken by tanker ship to a plant in China to be used in making a plastic-like substance for products such as cellphones, furniture, and carpet.
Residents in the Tacoma area have already attended one packed hearing
held by city officials to disseminate information about the methanol
plant plans. Opponents fear the plant could affect air and water
quality, or that it could lead to a dangerous explosion. Some union
members, who expect 1,000 construction jobs and 260 permanent jobs, have
backed the proposal. The Port of Tacoma agreed to lease the waterfront
property in 2014, and the plan is currently undergoing environmental
is 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. Subra and
local residents fought, and successfully closed, an oil waste
incinerator in Louisiana that was using hazardous waste as fuel. She has
provided technical assistance to communities near the polluted Hunters
Point Shipyard in San Francisco, and to others living near the Port of
New Orleans, where Italian nuclear waste was to be imported.