Community Defeats Petrochemical Refinery

In a big victory for community members in Longview, WA, a proposed petrochemical refinery pulled the plug on a project that would have threatened people’s health, safety, and our climate. Another fossil fuel project defeated on the Columbia!

In 2017, Pacific Coast Fertilizer LLC proposed a fracked-gas-to-anhydrous-ammonia refinery near the Columbia River. The facility would have stored anhydrous ammonia just a few thousand feet from homes and transferred the ammonia in 100 to 200 tanker trucks per week and ocean-going ships. 

We want to thank all of the amazing people in Cowlitz County and beyond who took a stand against the fracked-gas-to-ammonia refinery. 

Over the last three years, Columbia Riverkeeper worked with community members in Longview to raise public awareness and chart a legal strategy to stop the project. Check out Columbia Riverkeeper’s 2018 fact sheet about the ammonia refinery to understand what today’s victory means for people threatened by fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Here are three reasons people stood up to the fossil fuel industry:

  1. Climate Change: Fracked gas, also called “natural gas,” is 90% methane—an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Recent scientific studies show that the climate impact of fracked gas is nearly as bad as coal—or perhaps even worse. If built, the refinery would have been one of the region’s largest gas users.

  2. Safety: The U.S. classifies anhydrous ammonia as an extremely hazardous substance. Ammonia accidents are relatively common and they can be very serious. Longview residents had reason for concern: Our demographic study found that 42% of Longview’s youth live within 1.5 miles of the proposed facility.

  3. Public Health: Anhydrous ammonia is corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs. A controversial anhydrous ammonia facility in Columbia City, OR, illegally released more than six tons of anhydrous ammonia vapor over three days in 2015. The emissions triggered numerous complaints from neighboring residents, who reported foul odors, eye irritation, and difficulty breathing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined the facility $250,000. 

As our communities confront many pressing issues, we cannot allow new fossil fuel infrastructure that will lock us into a future dominated by pollution and climate change. 


ammonia, kids fact

Background Information

The fertilizer industry wants to convert fracked gas to anhydrous ammonia at a new facility located close to homes, businesses, and the Columbia River. People in Longview, WA, worked for years to protect their families and health from a proposal to build the nation’s largest coal export terminal. Now, Riverkeeper is teaming with community members to protect safety, health, and the Columbia from the latest fracked gas proposal.

​What’s Proposed

Pacific Coast Fertilizer LLC (Pacific Coast) wants to build and operate a 61-acre petrochemical facility to process fracked gas into anhydrous ammonia. The facility would store anhydrous ammonia several thousand feet from homes and transfer the ammonia in 100 to 200 tanker trucks per week and ocean-going ships. Anhydrous ammonia is an extremely hazardous chemical that is corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs; can be immediately dangerous to life and health; and, under certain conditions, is flammable and explosive. Status  In 2017 Pacific Coast submitted permit applications to the City of Longview. Before moving forward with permits, the City must produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that examines the project’s impacts on air and water quality, climate change, and other environmental consequences. The next step: the City will likely release a draft EIS for public comment in 2019. ​