Anacortes bubbling over North America’s biggest bottling plant

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 23, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 23 at 6:00 PM

Developers want to build the biggest bottling plant in all of North America in the pint-sized city of Anacortes. Tethys Enterprises wants to start bottling beverages in a 1-million-square-foot facility along a salmon estuary near Stevenson and Reservation Roads.

Workers would also manufacture plastic bottles, and increase the number of trucks and trains through town.

“We have a lot of unanswered questions pertaining to the environment and the impact this would have,” said Sandra Spargo, who organized a group called Defending Water in the Skagit River Basin.

The plant would also use 5 million gallons of water per day. That's just 2 percent of the city's supply, but Anacortes is expected to grow by 100,000 people over the next 50 years, and climate change could make water issues very different by then.

“It could be looked at as a drop in the bucket,” Spargo said. “But we need long term planning for our water.”

Developers, however, compare their vision of bottling in Anacortes to Boeing in Everett.  They foresee the city as a national hub for the industry, attracting upwards of 1,500 family-wage jobs, about 500 of which would be at the plant.

“We expect to attract a large supplier base to the area for ingredient and material providers as well as equipment and services,” said Tethys CEO Steve Winters.

“If we wanted that, we'd live in Everett,” fired back Spargo.

She downplays  the development, and the $580,000 in annual tax revenue for the city. She worries about her quality of life. The proposed plant would be built just across Highway 20 from a massive oil refinery.

“I am a strong believer is corporate citizenship,” she said. “There is no vision for the future of the people or environment, here.”

She believes the thirst for jobs right now might leave the people of Anacortes dry in the future.

In an e-mail from Europe, Winter told KING 5, “This plant will be the most environmentally advanced in the nation. We will do all within our power to eliminate any perceived impact, and in the process, contribute to improvements in the habitat.”

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