KENNEWICK — Atlas Agro is determined to remove carbon from the world’s agriculture systems and Richland is where it is going to start.
In one of the largest economic development deals in Tri-City history, the Port of Benton commission voted March 8 to sell 150 acres on the northern edge of Richland to Atlas.
The first-ever carbon-free fertilizer production plant will cost $1.1 billion to build.
The site is northwest of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, on the northwest corner at the intersection of Stevens Drive and Horn Rapids Road.
Atlas Agro said it will disrupt the fertilizer industry by producing nitrogen products with zero carbon emissions. The Richland plant will be the first of its kind in the world and will support 1,000 local jobs. It is expected to begin operating in 2027.
The Pacific Green Fertilizer Plant will convert nitrogen from the air into fertilizers to feed plants. Products will ship product to farmers and customers by electric vehicles as part of Atlas’s commitment to decarbonize the food supply chain, according to Dan Holmes, Atlas Agro’s executive director for North America.
Holmes said Atlas Agro will replicate the plant across the U.S. to produce fertilizers closer to the farmers who use them.
The massive Richland plant will boast five independent production units and will require 280 megawatts of “new power” to operate. The company indicated it will rely on new nuclear to fuel its operations without providing additional details.
Karl Dye, president and CEO of the Tri-City Development Council, confirmed it began discussing the project in August 2022. He pledged the economic development agency’s full support to clear future hurdles, including securing the power needed to run the plant.
“TRIDEC is completely committed to the project,” Dye said, adding that are still many steps before the project is finalized.
“There’s still a lot of work yet to get it done,” Dye said.
The Department of Energy transferred the property to the port in 2015 for future industrial use.
Diahann Howard, the port’s executive director, said the property was marketed to multiple users.
She called Atlas Agro is an exciting development that will only serve local agriculture by providing carbon-free fertilizers.
Too, it helps the region hit its goal of becoming a center for clean energy and could inspire millions in additional investment.
An Atlas spokesman said the next step is to begin a $25 million project to design and engineer the project. The company is paying about $9 million for the property, under the purchase and sales agreement inked Wednesday.
Atlas Agro is a global company with a North American office at 723 The Parkway in Richland, according to state records.