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Groundbreaking planned for $184 million Columbia Pulp plant that will turn straw-waste into pulp

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 18, 2017, 12:17 p.m.

Columbia Pulp will have a groundbreaking and community tour next week for its $184 million plant in southeast Washington, which will use straw to make pulp for paper production.

The plant will purchase about $13 million worth of straw each year from local wheat farmers. Company officials say the operation will be the first in North America to use straw in place of wood chips, making pulp for use in tree-free paper and packaging goods as well as agricultural and industrial products.

The events begin at noon Sept. 27 near Lyons Ferry at 1403 Highway 261, Starbuck. State Rep. Terry Nealy, R-Dayton, will speak at the groundbreaking, along with Port of Columbia Manager Jennie Dickinson and Michele McCarthy, Columbia Pulp’s chief financial officer.

Typically, waste straw is burned or tilled under, contributing to air pollution and soil erosion.

When farmers burn fields after harvest, they have to get permits from the state Department of Ecology. About $500,000 of those fees supported research on the straw-based pulp-making process that began at the University of Washington.

About 90 people will work at the plant, which is expected to open in late 2018.


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