Northwest Innovation Works, a company backed by the Chinese government that planned to build a controversial methanol plant on the Columbia River, appears to be closing up shop.
The company filed articles of dissolution with the Oregon Secretary of State last September, which indicates it is closing its Oregon business operations.
The Port of Columbia County had an option agreement with Northwest Innovation Works to lease property at the Port Westward Industrial Park near Clatskanie, where the company had planned to build a methanol facility.
Plans for the plant included using natural gas to make a clear methanol liquid that could be exported to China and used to produce a plastic manufacturing compound called olefin.
According to Port of Columbia County Executive Director Sean Clark the company’s option to lease agreement is still in effect.
“The Port of Columbia County is aware of the corporate dissolution by [Northwest Innovation Works] and is taking steps to contact NWIW and find out appropriate next steps,” Clark said in an emailed response.
Columbia County has been trying to rezone about 800 acres of farmland in the area to clear the way for industrial development. The environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper has challenged the rezoning multiple times, and a final decision is still pending at the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
Dan Serres with Columbia Riverkeeper said opponents spent years fighting the project and the pollution it would bring, and they are celebrating their victory.
“The Port Westward site was profoundly ill-suited for a methanol plant,” he said. “It should come as no surprise that this thing is going away. It would serve the port to end the lease with the nonexistent counterparty.”
Last year, Northwest Innovation Works also called off its proposal to build a $2 billion methanol plant on the Washington side of the Columbia River in Kalama after the Washington Department of Ecology denied a key permit for the project.
Ben Morris, a spokesman for the Oregon Secretary of State, said the company can continue operating for an indefinite period of time after filing to dissolve. However, having active business registration with the state would be required if the company wanted to renew an operating license, he said.