PenPly stack to be stripped before crews tumble it down
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
The plastic wrappings may be taken off the Peninsula Plywood stack in Port Angeles starting today in advance of its demolition set for next month.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Workers are expected to begin unwrapping plastic sheathing from around the former Peninsula Plywood smokestack this week — perhaps today — as Port of Port Angeles officials and site demolition contractors make plans to topple the 175-foot structure April 8.

The tower is scheduled to disappear from the city's skyline at 3:30 p.m. that Monday next month.

It will take about 2 weeks to remove the protective plastic and dismantle scaffolding, port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said.

The scaffolding and plastic were put into place so that workers could remove asbestos-laden paint as part of the port's $1.6 million project to demolish 11 buildings on the 19-acre site at 439 Marine Drive.

Hartman said an environmental consultant with Seattle-based Argus Pacific Inc. was slated to conduct air-monitoring tests Monday before signing off on demolition by the end of the day.

Previous air-monitoring tests have passed “with flying colors,” he said earlier Monday.

The mill was built in 1941 and existed under various names until December 2011, when Peninsula Plywood — a name borrowed from the mill's first incarnation — closed in arrears by more than $2.4 million to the port, city of Port Angeles and state Department of Labor and Industries.

Rhine Demolition of Tacoma, the main contractor for the project, also will conduct final cleanup of the site this week, leaving only an office building that will stay put, and the stack.

When exposed this week, it will no longer have the signature “KPly” name painted on the side, representing the moniker of one of the companies that operated the mill that had remained until the recent paint-removal project.

Woodland-based Wallace Technical Blasting is in charge of taking down the towering, 1,000-ton structure.

The day of the demolition, three certified blasters will be on hand, company owner Jerry Wallace said.

Dust from the blast should be minimal because the immediate area will be heavily watered down.

“It shouldn't be much of an issue for residents and nearby businesses,” Hartman said.

“It's not a full-blown implosion as far as hitting the ground.”

The stack will be felled much like a tree, by notching the structure, placing explosives at its the base and allowing it to fall to the northwest — away from the nearby downtown area, Hartman said.

Hartman and Wallace said arrangements for the public to view the event are still being made, though port and company officials have suggested that the best location might be the bluff on Third Street between the two Eighth Street bridges directly south of the stack and above downtown.

“Our goal is to get people to a safe location that has really good viewing of the event,” Hartman said.

Members of the general public will be excluded from the immediate blasting area, Wallace said.

“In the scheme of things, it's a small job, but like any blasting job, safety is absolutely critical.”

Nearby businesses have been warned not to view the event from behind glass to prevent injuries if glass is shattered due to the explosion's concussion, Hartman said.

“There will be a few places in the surrounding area that we will be asking to vacate the premises during the actual blast,” Hartman said.

Two Port Angeles boys will have a front-row seat.

Preschooler Jason Williams, 5, and sixth-grader Thomas Reynolds, 12, won a port-sponsored coloring contest.

Their grand prize: They get to set off the signal charges that will cause the blast.

Williams and Reynolds will be wearing hard hats, safety vests and goggles, plus noise-suppressing ear muffs, Wallace said.

“They'll look just like miniature workers there,” Wallace said.

Each also won a customized T-shirt with their artwork on it.

The boys' coloring projects are on the port's website, www.portofpa.com.

The website also contains ongoing images from a camera stationed on the port-owned property.

The goal is to have the camera operating when the stack comes down, though the structure will fall away from the lens, Hartman said.

[The Peninsula Daily News plans to post video of the tumbling stack at peninsuladailynews.com that day from four different vantage points.]

Hartman said a portion of Marine Drive will be closed for about 10 minutes during the event, as will parts some side streets that connect with Marine Drive in the vicinity of the mill.

The demise of the stack marks only the beginning of the end for the site.

Environmental cleanup is expected to last through 2017, according to the state Department of Ecology.

The port intends to use the property for marine trades.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 18. 2013 6:15PM
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