Citing the “tone and substance of vocal opposition,” Northwest Innovation Works has asked the city of Tacoma to temporarily halt an environmental review of a $3.4 billion methanol plant proposed at a port site.

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Citing the “tone and substance of vocal opposition,” Northwest Innovation Works has asked the city of Tacoma to temporarily halt an environmental review of a $3.4 billion methanol plant proposed at a port site.

“To force a facility on a community that does not welcome it would not be consistent with our goals,” Murray Godley, NW Innovation Works president, said in a statement Friday. “Therefore, we have decided to pause the … environmental review process.”

NW Innovation’s largest partner, CAS Holdings, is a commercial offshoot of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Other partners are Double Green Bridge Hong Kong and Johnson Matthey, a United Kingdom-based corporation.

The Tacoma facility would be the largest of three Pacific Northwest plants proposed to turn natural gas into methanol, which would then be shipped to China for use in the plastics industry.

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But the Tacoma project has drawn fierce opposition from area residents concerned about safety, potential pollution and other issues. A Feb. 10 public hearing about the scope of the environmental review drew about 1,000 largely hostile people.

The project would employ 1,000 workers during peak construction and provide 260 jobs once the plant is up and running.

The environmental review would examine a range of issues related to the project, proposed on 125 acres leased from the Port of Tacoma. The liquid methanol would be shipped to Chinese coastal plants that would manufacture olefins, a feedstock used in plastics.

A city official involved in the environmental review could not be reached Friday for comment, but a public meeting on the project scheduled for Feb. 24 has been canceled, according to a city website.

NW Innovation Works officials, in an earlier interview, said they hoped to begin construction in 2018.

In the statement released Friday, the company said it remains committed to the Tacoma project and will use the next several months “to engage the Tacoma community in further dialogue.”

The company would restart the environmental review process after the community dialogue, the statement said.

NW Innovation Works has proposed two other methanol projects, one in Kalama and another at Port Westward along the Oregon side of the Columbia River.