By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
The move was fueled by the number of requests for a public hearing made in public comments on the proposed $2 million project.
“We had quite a few people ask for a hearing in the comments,” Ecology spokeswoman Linda Kent said Wednesday.
The public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. May 20 at the Fort Worden Commons, Company A, 200 Battery Way.
Prior to the hearing, Ecology officials will answer questions at the hearing site at 5 p.m.
Ecology earlier this year determined the additional refiners at Paper Machine No. 2 would not need a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit, which is required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency of projects that will significantly change air quality.
Ecology also determined the project would have no significant negative environmental impacts under the state Environmental Policy Act.
The decision to conduct a public hearing was made last week.
The state agency also has extended the comment period for the paper company's plan to May 23.
That decision was made while reviewing comments left by the original deadline of March 28.
Port Townsend Paper President Roger Hagan said the refiners would help the mill produce stronger paper that is a more profitable product for the company.
The mill is Jefferson County's largest private employer, with some 285 employees as of last year.
The company submitted its plan to Ecology to add the refiners in December.
The refiners, which the company hopes to have operating by the end of this year, provide a cheaper method of strengthening the pulp used in the paper machine than chemical alternatives would, Hagan said.
“It's more economical to do it mechanically,” he said.
The refiners would increase production of high-grade paper by 3,450 tons per year while reducing the amount of paper that does not meet desired specifications by 2,225 tons per year, the company said in its application to Ecology.
The refiners, according to Ecology's review, would increase some air emissions and produce more odor-causing pollutants like sulfur, but emissions would remain under those allowed by the mill's air operating permit.
The increased pollutant emissions are not expected to lead to a detectable increase in odor, Ecology's report on the refiner addition said.
Emissions of greenhouse gases from the mill would also increase by about 8,500 tons per year but would remain well within the 75,000 annual tons that would be considered “significant” by the EPA, according to Ecology.
Ecology determined in its review of the paper company's proposal that its emission control units have enough capacity to handle increased emissions from the new refiners.
Port Townsend Paper produced about 625 tons per day of unbleached Kraft pulp and 267 tons per day of old corrugated cardboard pulp between September 2004 and June 2012.
For more on the project, visit http://tinyurl.com/PDN-ptpaperrefiners or check for documents at the Port Townsend Public Library, 1220 Lawrence St.
Comments can be submitted online, by email to PTPC.email@example.com or by mail to Stephanie Ogle, P.E., Department of Ecology, Industrial Section, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.