Port Townsend Paper mill seeks applicants to review odor trial results

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Paper Corp. is seeking volunteers to help evaluate an in-progress trial procedure to reduce odors surrounding the mill.

The trial, which began in July, involves injecting liquid oxygen into the 33-acre runoff pond, which has been the source of odor complaints for several years.

The trial is expected to continue for at least two months, depending on the results, according to environmental officer Kevin Scott, who is forming a trial review panel to help evaluate the results.

During the trial, the mill will test odor levels using a “Jerome Meter,” which is to be taken to areas from which complaints originate to provide an objective measurement of the sulfur content of the air.

Scott said the panel will assemble for the first time in September and will meet at least three times, with meetings about two or three weeks apart.

Scott said the group will be eight to 12 people plus an outside facilitator, and the meetings will not be open to the public “because we’re planning a more relaxed venue, and these are working meetings.”

Meetings likely will last between two and four hours, depending on the data reviewed and topics discussed.

Data packets and an agenda will be sent to panel members before the meetings to aid in preparation.

Scott said invitations to participate will be issued to specific community groups, including PT AirWatchers, PT Watch Dogs, the Port Townsend School District and Jefferson Healthcare hospital.

The general public also is invited to apply.

Applicants should have some science or engineering background to help in reviewing the information and assessments, Scott said.

The pond, where water from the mill on the south side of Port Townsend is purified and then channeled into Port Townsend Bay at a rate of 12 million gallons daily, holds 60 million to 80 million gallons at a time.

The trial system is installed on a pipe that leads into the pond and is attached to a liquid oxygen tank, through which oxygen is injected at a rate of 3 tons daily.

The oxygen mixed with the water from the mill reduces the sulfur content and, as a result, the smell, Scott said.

The odor test is a condition of a state Department of Ecology wastewater permit for the pond that is to be issued in September, which requires that the test take place within the first two years of the permit.

Those interested in serving on the panel should send an email by Aug. 30 to kevins2@ptpc.com that includes a description of science and engineering qualifications.

The mill recently has encouraged residents to call in with odor complaints, reconfiguring its Community Impact Line, 360-379-4224, for that purpose.

Comments also are taken through email at community_relations@ptpc.com.

Complaints about any mill odor also can be sent directly to the state Department of Ecology by calling 360-407-7393 or emailing angela.fritz@ecy.wa.gov.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 20. 2013 6:22PM
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