Viewing area planned for Port Angeles stack's tumble
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Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News
The smokestack that once serviced the now-razed plywood mill in Port Angeles slowly reappears from the plastic cocoon that shrouded it while its asbestos-laden surface was removed.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Spectators, including new state Ecology Director Maia Bellon, will watch the April 8 demolition of the former Peninsula Plywood mill's 175-foot stack from nearby property.

A tented, public viewing area will be set up west of the stack on North Cedar Street between Platypus Marine and PenPly, 439 Marine Drive, where the stack is located, Port of Port Angeles spokeswoman Holly Hairell said Monday.

Bellon, named Ecology director in February by Gov. Jay Inslee, will deliver a speech, and former workers at the mill, which produced plywood under various owners for 70 years, are expected to attend the event, Hairell said.

“We anticipate it will be of interest to the public but also will be somewhat of a reunion for all the people who worked there,” Hairell told port commissioners Monday at their regular meeting.

Workers Monday were unwrapping a protective plastic covering and a skeleton of scaffolding from the towering, 1,000-ton structure, newly stripped of asbestos-laden paint.

The chimney will be toppled with explosives at 3:30 p.m. April 8 as part of the $1.6 million clearing of the 19-acre, port-owned site.

The takedown will mark the prelude to a lengthy environmental cleanup expected to last until the end of 2017 — and which will be overseen by the agency Bellon now heads.

An air-monitoring specialist gave the go-ahead last week to remove the wrapping and scaffolding after approving the paint removal, Port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said.

The abatement specialist signed off on each area of the 11-building site before the edifices were demolished, he added.

Hartman said the public viewing area has room for about 200 spectators.

The stack will fall toward the north, he said.

A traffic control plan will be submitted to Port Angeles city officials this week that will include the shutdown of Marine Drive from east of North Cedar Street to the beginning of Marine Drive where it links with Front and First streets, Hartman said.

Traffic will be restricted so drivers who don't know that the stack is being demolished won't be distracted by the explosion, he said.

Nearby businesses have been warned not to view the explosion from behind glass.

The Peninsula Daily News plans to post video of the stack, as it tumbles down, at peninsuladaily
news.com that day from four different vantage points.

Port officials have suggested another viewing area: the bluff on Third street between the Eighth Street bridges.

The mill was built in 1941.

It manufactured plywood — beginning under employee-owned control by Peninsula Plywood and ending with a mill by the same name — until it was closed in December 2011 with owners owing the port, city of Port Angeles and state Department of Labor and Industries more than $2.4 million.

It also operated under the names ITT Rayonier, which purchased the original PenPly, and KPly, the Alaska Native company that acquired the mill from Rayonier.

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

Last modified: March 25. 2013 6:06PM
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