Frequently Asked Questions

Committed to manufacturing high-quality nitrogen fertilizer for agricultural use, Pacific Coast Fertilizer LLC (PCF) is a joint venture partnership founded by Saturn Project Development, a North American industrial project developer, together with top global technology and engineering firms, Ferrostaal GmbH and Haldor Topsoe A/S. To better serve the Pacific Northwest agricultural community, PCF intends to develop a state-of-the-art facility for the local production and distribution of nitrogen-based fertilizer – with an industry leading commitment to safe and secure operations.

PCF announced in September 2016 that it intends to develop a state-of-the-art facility in Washington State to manufacture high-quality nitrogen fertilizer to meet the needs of farmers in the Pacific Northwest. The vast majority of the Pacific Northwest’s anhydrous ammonia, a critical ingredient needed to make many fertilizers, is made abroad and imported into this market at a premium price to the agricultural industry. One of the goals of this facility is to replace the imported fertilizers with a locally manufactured, less expensive product.

The proposed facility would occupy approximately 60 acres in the Mint Farm Industrial Park, owned in part by the City of Longview. In May 2017 Longview’s City Council voted to proceed with a Purchase and Sale Agreement.

PCF was looking for a location to serve the Northwest market with convenient access to transportation (ship and truck). The Mint Farm Industrial Park is custom-made for heavy industrial projects such as the PCF facility. In addition to convenient access to river and roads, Mint Farm has an existing water supply and discharge infrastructure – both currently underutilized. An electrical substation is located there, together with an existing natural gas pipeline (which is the only viable feedstock) which has sufficient capacity, and can be extended to the PCF site. Together with its excellent location, Longview is a community with a long industrial history and has a strong workforce that will be drawn upon for both the construction and the operational phases.

Ammonia is a simple, naturally occurring, chemical compound formed of nitrogen and hydrogen: NH₃. Most of the ammonia in the natural environment comes from the breakdown of manure, dead plants and animals.

For centuries manure has been used as natural and effective fertilizer all over the world, but the huge demand of an ever-growing population can only be met by industrial fertilizers. In fact, without those fertilizers, the world would be without around one third of its food supply. 50 percent of all food consumed by mankind is cultivated on the basis of nitrogen–based fertilizers (97 percent of which is derived from ammonia).

It is also a common household item, often used for cleaning in products such as glass and window cleaners and multi-purpose cleaners.

About 80% of the ammonia produced by industry is used as a fertilizer. It can be stored and transported as a liquid, then applied directly to the soil, or injected into irrigation systems. Typically, you would notice it on agricultural fields in tanks attached to the back of a tractor where it is injected into the soil through blades and captured by the ground moisture. Ammonia can also be converted to other nitrogen-based fertilizers for application in liquid or solid form.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in the Pacific Northwest to fertilize crops such as wheat, barley, canola, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), peas and lentils.

There are many threats to food production and fertilizers help address the problems of poor soil conditions and lack of nutrients which result in less food production per acre. Fertilizers are compounds containing elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, that are essential in providing nutrition to crops. Of these, nitrogen is considered the most important, being a major component of chlorophyll (for photosynthesis) and of amino acids (the building blocks of all proteins).

Ammonia fertilizer has the highest nitrogen content of any commercial fertilizer, at over 82% nitrogen by mass.

For centuries manure and guano have been used as fertilizer all over the world, but the huge demand of an ever-growing population can only be met by industrial fertilizers. An increasing global population means increasing food demand. With the application of modern nitrogen-based fertilizer, the number of people that can be supported per acre of arable land more than doubles.

When fertilizer is added to the soil, crops and plants can develop a higher tolerance against disease and insects; this results in greater yields and healthier crops. Today’s global food crop production is highly dependent on ammonia-based, industrially produced fertilizer.

The primary aim is for PCF to serve the needs of the agricultural community in the Pacific Northwest; it is expected that clients would include wholesalers and retailers rather than individual farmers.

Ammonia has a multitude of uses, although none of these “downstream” products would be produced at the facility. Other than being a major source of nitrogen-based fertilizer all over the world, ammonia is found in many household items such as glass, window, multi-purpose and industrial strength cleaners. Ammonia is used as an industrial refrigerant for frozen foods and even for ice-skating rinks. Ammonia is used in the manufacture of textiles, explosives, plastics, pesticides, dyes and chemicals. Ammonia solutions are also used in brewing to adjust acidity, and to provide a source of nitrogen to microorganisms involved in the fermentation process.

While ammonia is commonly used as fertilizer, as well as in household products, it does require careful attention to safety.  Ammonia should be handled safely and stored securely at all times, from the manufacturing facility to the farm, by experienced personnel and using appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).  It is not generally considered flammable, having a high auto-ignition temperature of just above 1,200°F.  It is not an explosive hazard like ammonium nitrate.  Anhydrous ammonia is considered a corrosive chemical and bonds rapidly with water and becomes inert.  Anhydrous ammonia can be harmful to humans, reacting especially to moist organs such as eyes and lungs.  There are many precautions designed into facilities of this type intended to eliminate potential releases of the product and to protect more vulnerable points, such as loading areas, from accidental releases.



In ammonia production facilities, liquid ammonia is usually stored in pressure-less tanks keeping the inventory below evaporation temperature (-28°F) by means of a permanent refrigeration loop. PCF has selected an advanced design known as “full containment”, whereby a liquid and vapor-tight, insulated, inner steel tank is located within a liquid and vapor-tight, outer steel tank which upholds a higher safety standard than most North American facilities. A permanent refrigeration loop with safety back-up systems maintains the ammonia as a liquid. A breach of either tank cannot result in a release to the atmosphere. Gas detectors are positioned between the inner and outer tank to ensure that operators are promptly alerted in the highly unlikely event of a leak. Remote cameras can be deployed periodically to check on the integrity of both tanks. By adding just 0.2% water to anhydrous ammonia after production, before sending to storage, the risk of internal corrosion in the tanks is virtually eliminated. There will be no high pressure storage of ammonia on site.

No. In 2013, there was a tragic incident in West, Texas involving an ammonium nitrate explosion at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility. As determined by the state fire marshal’s office, although there was anhydrous ammonia on site, this incident was not caused by anhydrous ammonia, weather or natural causes. In May 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the incident was caused by an act of arson. It is important to note that this was a retail facility and not a manufacturer; as such it was not held to the same standards as a production facility. While manufacturing facilities must adhere to OSHA’s Process Safety Management, this does not yet apply to retail outlets.

While the proposed facility will be built to the highest technological standards for safe and secure operations with an eye towards mitigating any emergency event, PCF will shortly coordinate with all appropriate stakeholders and develop a fully integrated Emergency Response Plan. The plan will establish protocols that ensure a timely, comprehensive and coordinated response in the unlikely event of an incident.

The PCF facility and its staff will be fully trained and equipped to handle incidents that may occur on site; however, PCF will partner with Longview’s first responders to ensure that they are fully prepared with additional training and equipment to assist in an emergency situation should they be required.

PCF will adhere to OSHA’s Process Safety Management, a 14-element analytical tool ensuring the safe manufacture, handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

No. While anhydrous ammonia, like the cleaning solutions sold for home use, has a strong odor when exposed to air, there should not be any kind of pervasive odor around the manufacturing facility since it is an entirely closed system. From production through loading, the systems handling ammonia are designed to contain the product fully and thereby minimize the possibility of ammonia emissions to the ambient atmosphere.

Like the other existing industrial facilities in Longview, PCF’s facility will include compressors, cooling towers and other equipment involved in the manufacturing process. PCF will select and design facility equipment so that the facility as a whole will meet the City’s noise standards which limit noise impacts to adjacent receptors. PCF’s own set standard is that operating equipment must not exceed 85 decibels when heard from approximately a yard away.

Construction noise and traffic will be quantified during the permitting process, as will operational traffic.

PCF will be purchasing two storm water conveyance parcels and lots 8, 9, 10 and 11 in “Phase I” of the Mint Farm Industrial Park from the City of Longview. These properties total just over 18.5 acres.

With a unanimous vote of the city council, the City of Longview and PCF have agreed to a two-year option term in the purchase and sale contract that can be extended to include a third year. This option period will be used to evaluate how best to construct the facility, prepare all required studies and plans and complete the permitting process for the construction. Once the evaluations have taken place both parties can move forward.

In order to have adequate land to construct the facility, PCF will also be acquiring the property currently owned by Pacific Northwest Metal Recycling. Pacific Northwest Metal Recycling intends to remain in Longview and expects to relocate to another property closer to the Port of Longview. In addition, PCF will be acquiring lot 12 of the Mint Farm Industrial Park from a private company, bringing the total site to approximately 60 acres.

The zoning in the Mint Farm is Heavy Industrial (HI).  It is a zone within the City designed to accommodate projects such as this.

The facility would use a considerable amount of water in the production process.  PCF anticipates using approximately 2.7 million gallons of water per day that would be sourced from the City water supply.  While this is a substantial amount of water, it is within the City’s capacity to provide without the need to acquire additional water rights. The facility would also discharge into existing waste water treatment facilities approximately 0.5 million gallons per day of treated waste water from the process. That water would be further treated at the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Authority’s Treatment Plant. No water will be drawn from or discharged into the Columbia.

With no other viable alternative to natural gas as a feedstock for ammonia fertilizer, which is a necessary commodity for growing food, the process would consume approximately 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to meet production capacity. That supply is available via a private supply line in the Mint Farm area. Electricity for the facility would be supplied by the Cowlitz Public Utility District.

Like any consumer of natural gas, such as a homeowner heating their home in the winter, PCF buys natural gas from a provider.  While we are still in the process of arranging our natural gas acquisition, we are actively exploring the usage of alternatives to further reduce our carbon footprint – including renewable natural gas – to manufacture this necessary commodity for growing food.

Construction of the facility is estimated to generate $8-$10M in local sales taxes During operation the facility is estimated to generate $2.6-$3.3M per year in property taxes. Property tax revenues would escalate up to the full amount based on the value of construction completed in any year.

PCF estimates up to approximately 1,000 people would be required over the course of the three-year construction process.  As the facility nears start-up and operations, PCF expects to employ 80-100 people. Nearly all of the operating workforce is expected to come from the local area.  Due to the maintenance and servicing required in these types of facilities, it is expected that the facility will generate and support numerous other jobs in the community. The Manufacturing Institute has estimated a multiplier of 1.58 jobs being created for each manufacturing job, meaning 126-158 jobs being created as a result of this facility.

The payroll is not yet known but, as construction nears its end, PCF will recruit for 80-100 full-time, family-wage jobs, continuing throughout the operating life of the facility.

PCF’s EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) contractor, Saipem S.p.A. has joined forces with one of the largest industrial mechanical contractors in the nation, JH Kelly.  At the peak of construction, there may be as many as 1,000 workers employed.  PCF fully expects JH Kelly to enter into a Project Labor Agreement with the construction workers’ union(s).  PCF and JH Kelly have signed a letter of intent with the Longview-Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council.

Some limited activity has already begun at the various properties.  Surveyors, biologists and geologists have visited to carry out the preliminary evaluations that lead to permit applications and help determine the facility’s design. Soon after the Purchase and Sale Agreement is executed, and as the permitting process progresses, it is likely that additional activity would be noticeable. Construction activities, however, are not expected to begin until early to mid-2019.

The time the permitting process takes in any project depends on a host of factors. Sometimes the issues that need to be addressed are complex and require time to understand their impact. As the City receives applications and develops its understanding of the proposal, it will be easier to forecast what the process will need to be, the specific permits required, and then estimate the permitting timeframe.

With the highest commitment to safe and secure operations at all times, Pacific Coast Fertilizer has chosen to enter into the full EIS process, which will show how to build this project in a way that protects our neighbors, community and the environment we all value.

PCF has made an initial application for filling and grading permits and has submitted a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist describing the project in some detail, as required by the City.  This checklist gives the City a clearer idea of the potential impacts of the project and allows them to determine which path the SEPA review will take.  The City has issued a Determination of Significance concluding that the project is likely to have environmental impacts that require further study.  That determination triggers the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.

PCF aims to begin the three-year construction phase in early to mid-2019.

With the highest commitment to safe and secure operations at all times, Pacific Coast Fertilizer has chosen to enter into the full EIS process, which will show how to build this project in a way that protects our neighbors, community and the environment we all value.

PCF aims proactively to collaborate with the City to fulfill all the requirements of the SEPA process.  Environmental impacts will be identified and assessed by the City and measures mitigating those impacts will be described in the EIS.  There are formal comment periods during the EIS process which encourage public comment.  Citizens are therefore encouraged to follow the process and contribute to the discussion regarding the project’s potential impacts.

PCF is working together with its technology providers and engineering partners to design a facility that meets all applicable air quality standards, by using state-of-the-art technology which meets The Department of Ecology’s designation as BACT (Best Available Control Technology), including CATOX (Catalytic Oxidizers) and Ultra Low NOₓ burners. Emissions will be quantified, and their impact to air quality assessed, as part of the SEPA review conducted by the City and the air permit application review to be conducted by the Southwest Clean Air Agency

Nitrogen-based fertilizers are an absolute necessity in modern crop production both across the Pacific Northwest and worldwide.  As in other facilities all over the world, ammonia is formed by the combination of nitrogen from the atmosphere, and hydrogen from natural gas.  Consequently, carbon dioxide is emitted as a byproduct.

Currently, the vast majority of ammonia fertilizer used in the Pacific Northwest is imported from other countries including Trinidad and Canada, which greatly increases the carbon emissions from transportation.  It is PCF’s belief that producing ammonia fertilizer locally in Longview to serve the agricultural needs of the PNW will reduce carbon emissions from transportation, lowering the overall Greenhouse Gas impact.

In addition, rather than self-generating electricity, the facility will buy power ‘over-the-fence’, resulting in natural gas consumption (in the order of) 10% less than comparable facilities.

Emissions of other Greenhouse Gases such as methane and nitrogen dioxide will be strictly limited in line with the requirements of the EPA’s NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards).

With a commitment to protect neighbors, the community and the natural environment, PCF will meet all state and federal climate action policies, and PCF plans to study the Lifecycle Impact of locally produced fertilizer as part of the EIS process.

While alternative processes for the production of ammonia do exist, they are not available on an industrial scale. Using other methods would dramatically increase the price of food, making them neither socially or economically viable today. Natural gas is our preferred feedstock as it is the cleanest fossil fuel available. We are still in the process of arranging our natural gas acquisition, however, we are actively exploring the usage of alternatives to further reduce our carbon footprint – including renewable natural gas – to manufacture this necessary commodity for growing food.


There are multiple sources on the internet regarding information on the production of anhydrous ammonia.  Ammonia comprises nitrogen and hydrogen; the hydrogen is provided by natural gas, and the nitrogen is separated out from the air. The two are then combined in a catalytic (“Haber Bosch”) process.

Like any consumer of natural gas, such as a homeowner heating their home in the winter, PCF buys natural gas from a provider.  While we are still in the process of arranging our natural gas acquisition, we are actively exploring the usage of alternatives to further reduce our carbon footprint – including renewable natural gas – to manufacture this necessary commodity for growing food

No. The Mint Farm Industrial Park already has the necessary infrastructure in place including existing natural gas pipelines. Only a short extension within the Mint Farm Industrial Park area would be required to provide natural gas to the PCF facility fence line. This extension would not result in any additional construction alongside residential areas in Kelso, Longview or over the Cowlitz or Columbia Rivers.

No. It is important to note that in a facility such as this, unlike oil fields or oil refineries, the flare is not a permanently visible open flame. The flare is a required safety device which would only be activated during “upset conditions”. Should the facility, for any reason, encounter upset process conditions such as an unplanned trip or outage, combustible gases within the process are not routed to the atmosphere but to a central flare where they are burned. This is a rare occurrence; although a small pilot light burns continuously (not visible from outside), the flare would only be seen occasionally, and certainly would not operate 24/7.