Plans for straw pulp plant on track

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DAYTON — Plans for a straw pulp plant outside of Starbuck are moving forward, along with the possibility of 130 new jobs once it begins operating.

The Dayton-based Columbia Pulp submitted a conditional use permit application on Feb. 28, seeking to build and operate an industrial plant generating 140,000 tons of straw pulp and other commodities per year. The plant would be near the Snake River’s Lyons Ferry Marina along State Route 261 west of Starbuck.

Materials sought

People or companies interested in supplying materials for construction of the Columbia Pulp plant should contact Larry Tantalo, PE, with the Federal Way-based engineering firm Parker, Messana & Associates, at 253-926-0884. Anyone interested in supplying straw or other materials for plant operations should contact Columbia Pulp CEO John Begley at 360-316-9552.

Plans call for operations to start in 2015.

Columbia County Planner Kim Lyonnais said the environmental impact of the plant has been determined to be nonsignificant after mitigation. His department is calling for public comments and plans to hold an application hearing on May 9.

Without public comments, Lyonnais said he couldn’t speculate about whether the permit would be approved, because someone could raise an unanticipated issue with the plan.

But he did say the plant is well-located from a planning perspective, noting that the application doesn’t request any variances or special privileges, and the project isn’t in an environmentally sensitive area.

“It appears to be in a very good spot,” he said.

Columbia Pulp CEO John Begley said he’s been getting many inquiries from people and companies hoping to supply building materials for the plant and straw once it’s completed. Plant operations will require about 700 tons of straw per day, which the company plans to draw from farms within a 75 mile radius.

Begley said Columbia Pulp is on track to begin site preparation in the fall, and construction in the first months of 2015.

“Everything’s moving along. At this point I certainly don’t see any major hurdles,” he said.

The conditional use permit application is available here. Comments may be sent to Columbia County Planning/Building, 114 S. Second St, Dayton, WA 99328 or kim_lyonnais@co.columbia.wa.us.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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