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Anacortes Considers Massive New Manufacturing Plant

Sara Lerner
08/20/2012

The city of Anacortes is hearing comments from the public at its meeting tonight over a potential new manufacturing facility. But as KUOW's Sara Lerner reports, no one seems to know exactly what the controversial new plant will make.

TRANSCRIPT

The dispute is ongoing. Nearly two years ago, the city of Anacortes signed a contract with a company called Tethys. It says the city will supply Tethys with water to run a food and beverage manufacturing plant: up to 5 million gallons of water per day. The owners say they want it to be one of the largest beverage manufacturing facilities in the country.

And it would be big. As a comparison, the old Rainier brewery in Seattle used 5 percent of that amount. No manufacturer in Seattle uses as much as this Tethys facility would.

Many steps would need to fall into place first, like upgrading Anacortes' water treatment plant. Tethys would pay for that. Also: Tethys needs some land. That's why the city is now hearing comments about converting a parcel of land from rural reserve to urban growth.

If that happens, Tethys can buy it and then move along with its plans. The Mayor says a new facility would be good for Anacortes. It would bring money to the city's coffers, to the fire and police department, and to schools.

But there's plenty of disagreement. City Councilmember Ryan Walters says he's not getting clear answers from the Mayor, even about what kind of facility Tethys would build.

Anacortes Mayor Dean Maxwell:

Dean Maxwell: "Tethys is a food and beverage manufacturing facility. And they're also interested in having property available for a business park. Some of their thoughts are: there's a worldwide shortage of dialysis fluid. If they could manufacture dialysis fluid, there's a huge demand."

Ryan Walters: "Okay, this is the type of thing I'm talking about. Where did that come from?"

And that's Councilmember Walters. He says he had never heard about the dialysis idea until I told him about it. And he says that reinforces his stance to vote against the application to expand the urban growth area.

Ryan Walters: "The UGA application says it's gonna be a beverage bottling facility. The Skagit Valley Herald reported it's a water bottling plant. The mayor says it's a water bottling or business park. The contract says it is a food and beverage industrial park. I mean, what is it?"

Walters says he doesn't actually believe Tethys will build any facility. He thinks it's more likely Tethys will sell the contract and let another entity use those 5 million gallons of water a day. And that's allowed under the terms of the agreement between Tethys and Anacortes.

Ryan Walters: "My concern is that it's like The Music Man, somebody rolling in here to sell a small town a bill of goods."

Other Anacortes locals have cited a number of environmental concerns, like truck and train traffic, smell and noise pollution.

They'll have a chance to share those thoughts with the Anacortes City Council tonight.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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