'Kaboom': Date, time set for explosion to fell PenPly smokestack
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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That's the date and time that was given Monday to Port of Port Angeles commissioners.
The 175-foot-tall chimney will be the last structure razed at 439 Marine Drive just west of downtown.
The site — the former home of Peninsula Plywood — is being demolished in a $1.6 million project that will make way for marine trades.
Marine Drive and other area roads will be closed briefly in the vicinity of the blast, said port Public Works Manager Randy Brackett.
People in neighboring buildings also will be warned by flier that if they want to watch the stack come down, they should step outside their buildings and not view the action through glass windows because the concussion from the demolition could shatter them.
“The last thing we want them to experience is glass falling on them,” Brackett said.
The stack will land to the northeast of the marine terminal building.
“They suggested they could put a target down and see how close they come to that,” Brackett quipped.
Port officials still are determining where the optimum places might be for people to see the stack come down.
Brackett said possible sites include along Third and Pine streets on the bluff above downtown or from a concrete pad on North Cedar Street west of PenPly at Platypus Marine.
Port Human Resources and Administrative Manager Holly Hairell is seeking former mill employees — the mill was KPly and ITT Rayonier under other owners — for recollections, photos and other memorabilia.
She can be reached at 360-417-3454 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting room at the port administrative offices at 338 W. First St. may be turned into a sort of mill museum the day the stack is toppled “so people can come back and really understand the mill and the story behind it,” Hairell said.
The stack had been slated for demolition March 25, but it has taken longer than expected for workers to remove asbestos-laden cement from the stack, Brackett said.
In addition, recent inclement weather caused a delay after wind ripped the plastic sheathing that is encasing it.
Rhine Demolition of Tacoma has destroyed 223,400 square feet of structures on the site, turning the project into primarily a recycling effort, Brackett said.
Workers have hauled 900 tons of material for disposal, while 562 tons of metal and 150 tons of timber have been recycled.
“It's great to see that on a contract of this scale,” Brackett said.
Forty-four percent of material on the site has been recycled, Brackett said.
All non-stack-related debris should be removed from the site by Thursday.
Plastic sheathing and scaffolding around the stack will be removed by April 3.
“The blast — the kaboom as I like to call it — will be April 8 at 3:30 p.m.,” Brackett said.
Material from the stack will be removed by April 24, with final cleanup by April 30 and project completion by May 3.
Port Commissioner John Calhoun noted the twofold purpose of the project: environmental remediation, which includes containing an underground plume of pollution, and developing the property for future use.
The state Department of Ecology has estimated that environmental cleanup will be completed by the end of 2017.
The port intends to market the property for marine trades.
“We really want to put that to use and create high-paying jobs for our community,” Calhoun said.
Stack demolition marks “the symbolic renewal of that site,” he added.
Calhoun also suggested interpretive information about the site be provided for the public at the site.
Port officials also say they make keep a towering, green 13-ton hydraulic mill press on the property.
Port Commissioner Paul McHugh said he sees the stack demolition as a chance to stimulate regional interest in what Port Angeles has to offer.
“It's a great marketing opportunity,” he added.
After opening in 1941, the mill operated under various names and owners until it was closed as a second incarnation of Peninsula Plywood, owing $2.4 million to the city of Port Angeles, state Department of Labor and Industries and the port, which owns the property.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: March 11. 2013 6:10PM