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Northwest Innovation Works’ plans for a $1.8 billion methanol plant at the Port of Kalama took two steps forward recently.

Port officials announced Tuesday that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has agreed to sell two acres needed for access to the plant site.

“BNSF acted expeditiously on our offer to acquire the property because they recognize how important this jobs-creating project is to our community,” Port Commission President Alan Basso said in a prepared statement.

Along with the land purchase, the port and Northwest Innovation have hired a team of consultants to assist with the project development. Seattle-based consultants BergerABAM will be responsible for studies and design work needed to submit permit applications to local, state and federal government agencies.

Studies related to the construction and operation of the methanol plant are expected to be done within one year. The port and Northwest Innovation are sharing the cost of the studies.

Advising the port on environmental, health and safety issues, as well as reviewing the project to ensure it is in compliance with all health and safety regulations, will be Endeavor EHS, out of Portland. Cape International of Juneau, Alaska, will advise the port on dock design and loading facilities to ensure they meet Coast Guard requirements.

Northwest Innovation expects to employ around 1,000 workers during the construction of the project. Once the facility is built, the company estimates it will have 240 permanent workers at full build-out.

Additional information about the NW Innovation Works proposal can be found at www.nwinnovationworks.com.

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The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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