Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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Longview’s Mint Farm to be $1B fertilizer plant

Company projects opening in 2021 with about 80 to 100 workers


LONGVIEW — After evaluating the area for about a year, a new company has agreed to build a fertilizer plant at Longview’s Mint Farm Industrial Park that would employ up to 100 workers and cost up to $1 billion.

Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP is a joint venture backed by Texas-based Saturn-Ferrostaal Chemicals LLC, Ferrostaal, Haldor Topsoe and Canada-based Pacific Fertilizer.

Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP was founded by Ferrostaal Topsoe Projects and Saturn Ferrostaal Gas Chemicals. Its 53-acre plant would be built in the heart of the Mint Farm. Pacific Coast Fertilizer would buy 17 acres from the city of Longview and the remaining acreage from PNW Metals Recycling, a current Mint Farm tenant which will move to another location.

Construction of the plant would require a peak workforce of 1,000 people, according to Pacific Coast. It’s projecting the facility going into operation in 2021 at a cost of $800 million to $1 billion and eventually employing 80 to 100 people at family wage jobs, spokesman David Richey said.

“We should look to start construction and operation as soon as possible. There is substantial permitting processing to go through. … But we believe there is a strong market demand for fertilizer and would like to open our doors as soon as possible,” Richey said, reporting that financing for the project is lined up.

Northwest farmers and retailers typically pay a premium price for nitrogen-based fertilizers imported from Canada and the Caribbean through the Panama Canal, paying about $150 more per ton more than farmers and retailers pay on the Gulf Coast, according to Pacific Coast officials.

The Longview City Council unanimously approved a $1.78 million sale of city lands to the backers. Pacific Coast will pay nearly $1.8 million to the city for its 17 acres and a quarterly holding fee for three years while it undergoes permitting, according to Longview City Manager Dave Campbell. The holding fee is about $18,000 quarterly the first year, $23,000 the second year and $29,000 the third year, Campbell said.

The purchase price for the PNW Recycling land was not immediately available.

The plant would convert natural gas into anhydrous ammonia, a liquid commercial fertilizer. Anhydrous ammonia is not ammonium nitrate, the type of fertilizer used in the April 1995 Oklahoma City domestic terror explosion that killed 168 people. Oregon’s largest fertilizer plant, the Dyno Nobel facility just north of St. Helens, Ore., has manufactured anhydrous ammonia for years without a serious incident.

“To ensure safe and secure operations at all times, PCF’s state-of-the-art fertilizer manufacturing, storage and distribution facility will adhere to industry leading operating standards. Throughout planning, construction and ongoing operations, the project is required to follow Process Safety Management, a 14-element analytical tool covering all aspects of handling, storage, production and disposal of hazardous materials,” Richey said by email.

Pacific Coast Fertilizer is planning to obtain natural gas through the pipeline that serves the Weyerhaeuser/Nippon industrial site, Campbell said. That pipeline connects to the main Northwest Williams natural gas pipeline at Ostrander.

Pacific Coast has been looking for a site to build a fertilizer plant to serve the Pacific Northwest agriculture industry for years.

Longview is “ideally located” to serve the region’s agriculture needs and has an industrial work force that can be trained to operate the plant,” Richey said Wednesday. “All the pieces really make sense for us.”

If the sale goes though, the city would be left with ownership of just the lot in the Mint Farm, Campbell said. Weyerhaeuser Co. still owns between 100 and 120 acres of undeveloped land in the park, and the city will continue to market that to other clients.

Campbell said ability to serve West Coast and export markets by rail, truck or boat, and the availability of natural gas were key factors for Pacific Coast deciding to locate at the Mint Farm, Campbell said.

The development is some long-awaited good news for the Mint Farm, which the city laid out more than two decades ago hoping to lure employers and thousands of jobs. Pacific Coast Fertilizer would nearly double the current level of employment there — a little over 100 jobs. The fertilizer plant is targeted for a site where a wood truss plant shuttered briefly after opening early last decade, scotching hopes that it would create 400 jobs.

Pacific Coast officials said they expect to hire locally and provide substantial training for specialized roles. While operators and maintenance workers can be trained, the company would also need engineers, IT support, accountants, superintendents and other professionals with some kind of post-secondary education, company officials said last fall during a visit.

Construction will likely be done with a contractor who uses union labor, although Pacific Coast does not yet have a project labor agreement with building trades unions, the company said.

The liquid fertilizer would be sold to agricultural retailers throughout the Northwest and shipped by truck and ships. Pacific Coast Fertilizer would transfer its products by pipeline to nearby docks owned by Millennium Bulk Terminals’ or Weyerhaeuser Co. It will produce the equivalent of 11 semi-truck loads of liquid fertilizer daily.