Local non-profit leads the way in environmental research for sustainable industries

September 14, 2023 | News

Situated amidst a picturesque landscape with proximity to the Puget Sound and numerous streams, lakes, and forests, Anacortes offers an ideal setting for environmental research and studies. It’s this unique environment and abundant access to marine life that drew the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI) to our community.

NCASI is a non-profit organization that conducts unbiased scientific research and provides technical information to help the forest products industry achieve its environmental and sustainability goals. Founded in 1943 by a consortium of pulp and paper companies, NCASI has remained dedicated to its mission of better understanding and minimizing the ecological impact from forest products sector operations. Over the course of its 80-year history, NCASI’s contributions have evolved from pioneering wastewater practices to expanding its technical expertise to encompass water, air, chemical management, carbon, and forestry. Today, NCASI stands as the leading source of reliable data on environmental issues related to forest products.

With 65 staff members dispersed across five offices and laboratories in the US and Canada, NCASI’s team boasts a vast range of technical expertise, featuring scientists, engineers, hydrologists, toxicologists, and water quality modelers.

NCASI has maintained a presence in Anacortes since 1989, with an office and lab space originally at Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center. Its location in Anacortes was initially driven by the need to study marine organisms to evaluate the Environmental Protection Agency’s then-newly developed marine toxicity testing methods.

Starting in 1997, NCASI began renting space from the Port of Anacortes at 1219 Q Avenue at Cap Sante Marina. In 2019 they relocated to another Port-owned building at 3rd Street and N Avenue following completion of the Port’s Cap Sante Marina redevelopment. In collaboration with the Port, the facility underwent a significant remodel to accommodate NCASI’s specialized needs for lab work, including an ultra-pure water system, a fume hood to work safely in the presence of chemicals, and incubators to support experiments.

NCASI currently has a team of five based in Anacortes. Its research primarily centers on aquatic biology in surface waters near pulp and paper mills and forestry operations, as well as toxicity assessments. NCASI also researches the efficiency of wastewater treatment systems at pulp and paper facilities and water quality criteria development. Among ongoing projects, NCASI is conducting a comprehensive, long-term study assessing the impact of pulp and paper mill discharge in rivers. This study, started in 1998, is one of the most robust datasets to evaluate the effects of these discharges on water quality, habitat, fish, macroinvertebrates, and algae.

NCASI’s work is integral to advancing sustainability goals and improving the effectiveness of pollution control measures across North America. Given the Port’s own history of addressing legacy contamination on its properties and dedication to environmental stewardship, we are grateful to have NCASI as a tenant and the opportunity to support their mission. We look forward to continuing to provide a space in Anacortes that will serve as an important hub for their office, laboratory work, and research activities, both within the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Learn more about NCASI and their work at https://www.ncasi.org/.