SAVE OUR WATER
The goal of Save Our Water is to have properly balanced use of this precious publicly-owned resource, with sustainable shares of residential and industrial use (such as is the case in King County) and to give the residents of Tacoma the ability to have a greater say in the maintenance of that balance. Additionally, we hope to give direction to elected officials that water should be for people first, then industry. A secondary goal is that we should to be more in line with King County and their water use for residents and industry.
• OUR WATER SUPPLY & OTHER RESOURCES
• OUR ENVIRONMENT
• OUR PUBLIC SAFETY
OUR WATER SUPPLY & OTHER RESOURCES
• When NW Innovation Works (NWIW) announced this project, it said that the methanation process would use about 14-21 million gallons of water per day.
• NWIW is proposing their water come from only a few sources, including our Green River, the source of our drinking water.
• This is more than an issue of protecting Tacoma’s water. The water supply managed by the City of Tacoma actually serves a region, and the water supply jeopardized and impacted by this refinery also serves the residents of Fife, Milton, Kent, Covington, Lakewood, Federal Way, the Muckleshoot and Puyallup Reservations and portions of Auburn and Des Moines.
• Water demand in Pierce County alone is projected to increase by 63 percent over the next 50 years. (source: The 2009 Regional Municipal Water Supply Outlook)
• Tacoma’s and those cities served by this residential water use is 5.9 billion gallons/year, or 16.2 million gallons of water per day. Tacoma residents alone used 13.4 million gallons per day in 2015.
• This official government report predicts that the water demand for our region will increase from 113.8 million to 129.3 million gallons per day between 2010 and 2030, a difference of 15.5 million gallons per day over 20 years. (source: The 2009 Regional Municipal Water Supply Outlook).
• If built, the NWIW methanol refinery will instantly utilize the equivalent of the 20 years of expected growth in our region’s needs for water.
• A 2009 state survey of public utilities shows that the Pierce County Large Water Users make up 13.7 percent, while in King County the Large Water Users Sector is only 1.9 percent.
• This report also indicated that growth projections suggests that “… water supply is estimated to fall short in meeting projected water demands by approximately 94 million gallons per day around 2060.”
• If more and more projects like the NWIW methanol refinery are approved, the capacity of the region’s water resources to meet human needs cannot be sustained.
• The Pacific Northwest has just experienced its worst drought in history and residents across the region were asked to reduce water consumption by 10 percent. How can area residents believe utility officials who would claim that there is plenty of capacity for this project?
• As climate change continues and droughts become more regular, residents were asked or mandated to reduce their use of water – but it is residents and not industry that will be expected to bear the burden of conserving water.
• Electrical use is estimated to be 450 megawatts (MW) at the initial startup with ongoing use at 400 MW (source: NWIW website), enough electricity to power 320,000 homes.
• The refinery will also generate massive amounts of wastewater that must be treated … utility officials have said the existing system does not have the capacity to handle the increased demands of having to treat an additional 1.44 million gallons per day of contaminated wastewater.
• The city’s wastewater is used in the production of Tagro, a soil amendment for gardens and lawns. Will our yards and gardens now become contaminated as a result of substances from the methanol refinery’s production process?
• The refinery’s water and power requirements will serve to divert and monopolize precious publicly-owned resources that could otherwise be used to support the development of numerous small, more eco-friendly, businesses and their associated jobs, many more than the 200 or so jobs promised by this single project.
• The project will reduce water quality in Commencement Bay, with subsequent adverse impacts to aquatic life.
• “Threats to the Green River water supply affect the economy, natural ecosystem and unique culture of the Pacific Northwest. The Green River watershed is relied upon not only by the City of Tacoma, but by many other species as well, including threatened Chinook salmon, a key food for orcas. Substantially lowering river water levels could have harmful consequences for these culturally iconic species and the Puget Sound ecosystem.” (source: Citizens for a Healthy Bay website)
• There will be additional marine vessel traffic in ecologically fragile Puget Sound, and an increased risk of spills and catastrophic vessel explosions, posing a significant and ongoing danger to public safety and the Puget Sound ecosystem.
• The refinery will emit methane as part of the methanol production process, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, the gas currently leaking out of control and ruining a community in southern California.
• The methanation process will produce air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (which include known cancer agents such as benzene and formaldehyde).
• The methanation process will also produce zinc sulfide which easily penetrates the soil to contaminate groundwater and nearby waterways. (Source: Open Chemistry Database)
OUR PUBLIC SAFETY
• Methanol refinery and storage facilities are extremely dangerous. Explosions have occurred regularly at such facilities around the world.
• Methanol is flammable in liquid and gas states, and it is highly volatile and explosive at room temperatures. It is considered highly toxic to humans and animals.
• The refinery will convert one of our most precious natural resources – water – to produce 7.2 million metric tons of methanol annually. That’s nearly 16 billion pounds of methanol which will be shipped through Puget Sound to China for use as a cheap material for the production of plastics.
• Over 300,000 metric tons (or 661 million pounds) of methanol will be stored in above ground storage tanks at any given time. It is extremely and dangerously explosive.
• Methanol storage facilities were part of the enormous August 2015 disaster in the Port of Tianjin, China that killed more than 100 people and left hundreds more injured. Those explosions “had a power equivalent to three tons of TNT detonating, while the second was the equivalent of 21 tons” (source: BBC News). It was visible from space.
• As was shown in the case of Tianjin, the safety risks posed by the methanol refinery are compounded by co-locating it in the Port of Tacoma with several other industrial users, including an oil refinery, some of who have industrial accidents.
• The risks to Tacomans and the area surrounding the refinery are substantially elevated due to the increasing likelihood of a long overdue massive earthquake in our region. How would emergency response systems and personnel cope with such a devastating event so close the region’s most important transportation corridor?
• Industrial facilities like a methanol refinery represent an increased risk for acts of terrorism due to the devastating public and environmental consequences of an attack.
• NWIW has never built or operated a methanol refinery of any size, anywhere. How can we expect it to safely operate what has been said to be the LARGEST METHANOL REFINERY IN THE WORLD?
These are our concerns … support the Save Our Water initiative to give the public the ability to have a greater say in the protection of its publicly-owned resources.