Ecology renews Port Townsend Paper mill permit
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The renewal was issued after a public comment period from April 24 to June 21 as well as a public hearing held June 4.
“Given the community’s interest in the mill, we took some extra steps to get the public’s input on this permit,” said Ecology spokeswoman Linda Kent.
“We did get some very good, detailed comments that led to changes in the permit.”
A total of 236 comments were received from 100 people and groups during the comment period, including 16 at the hearing, Kent said.
Most comments, which are posted by Ecology at http://tinyurl.com/pdn-millpermitcomments, referred to odor from the mill. None of the commenters was identified.
“I suggest that as the evaluation of each odor reduction method is completed, those methods that have been shown to reduce odor on their own be implemented immediately.”
“I believe that the Toxic Waste from the Mill helped cause the Heart and Lung Disease that killed my dog from breathing Mill Toxins all his life here in Port Townsend and will injure and kill many more.”
Not all of the comments were critical.
“Port Townsend needs jobs and to make it too tough for the mill to operate will result in a disaster. . . . I say, quit complaining and find something worthwhile to do with your time like volunteering in some positive way. The bad smell never lasts that long. Suck it up!”
The permit is required for industrial facilities that discharge wastewater into public waterways and are updated periodically.
Permits are issued for five years, but the Port Townsend mill’s most recent permit was issued in 2004 and expired in 2009. A labor backlog in Ecology caused the delay, Ecology section manager Garin Schrieve said in June.
Kent cited a number of changes since the last permit.
Significant changes included a small decrease in the amount of biochemical oxygen demand, or BOD, and total suspended solids, or TSS, allowed to be discharged from the main outfall and a new pH limit for the sanitary treatment plant.
It also required a compliance schedule for removal of sludge buildup from the treatment pond and a treatment efficiency study of the pond with a specific requirement to address minimization of odors emanating from it.
Kevin Scott, Port Townsend Paper environmental officer, said the company will conduct a groundwater study that will complement its present odor study, begun in July, that is designed to decrease the smells emanating from the pond.
Gretchen Brewer, a spokeswoman for PT Airwatchers, said she had not noticed any decrease in the odor since the study began.
“It has been just as bad and has more of a chemical smell,” she said.
The mill’s odor study is ongoing. Those detecting smells are encouraged to phone 360-379-4224. Comments also are taken through email at email@example.com.
Complaints about mill odor also can be sent directly to Ecology, 360-407-7393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This permit is not related to the mill’s appeal of a decision by the Jefferson County Public Health Department denying the renewal of its inert wastewater permit, which is now scheduled to be addressed by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board on Dec. 12-13.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: September 18. 2013 5:52PM