Plans Withdrawn for Potash Export Facility at Port of Grays Harbor

Citing ongoing local concerns and regulatory obstacles, BHP has announced that it is no longer pursuing plans for a potash export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor.

The company, which had been envisioning a facility at the port’s Terminal 3 since 2015, withdrew its permit applications earlier this month and will instead shift its focus to developing at Fraser Surrey Docks in British Columbia and do its due diligence on other shortlisted terminals, according to the port.

“While we are incredibly disappointed to lose this significant opportunity not just for our community, but for our state and our nation, I am grateful to BHP for the lessons we have learned about what community engagement and the environmental permitting process can and should look like,” Port Executive Director Gary Nelson said in a statement. “This was our project to lose and unfortunately, as I have said many times in the past, time kills deals. For rural economic development to thrive, we have to be able to provide prospective investors and employers with clearly defined requirements along with timelines for the path forward. After five years, we collectively were not able to do that for the BHP project.”

Terminal 3’s industrial property and its proximity to rail and deep-water access were attractive features for BHP, which spent years conducting “geotechnical, environmental, cultural and other site investigations” related to its proposed facility. But regulatory issues hampered progress.

“We will also look to work with our tribal leaders and state and federal elected officials to help improve the current permitting processes so that businesses like BHP, and REG and Contanda before them, don’t have to waste multiple years and millions of dollars on a process that has no end,” said Port Harbor Commission President Stan Pinnick.

By Sarah Spangler