Pit-to-pier — comments now open on draft environmental impact statement on Hood Canal conveyor belt, pier proposal; document points to mitigation work

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A draft environmental impact statement recommends mitigation measures in four key areas for the proposed construction of a 4-mile-long conveyor belt to move gravel and rocks from a quarry to a processing facility and then to a 998-foot pier on Hood Canal.

Thorndyke Resources of Poulsbo has submitted applications to Jefferson County requesting approval of a zoning conditional-use permit, shoreline conditional-use permit and substantial development permit.

The company says the pier would be designed to serve both barges and ships and at full production, expected 25 years after construction of the pier, it would load some 6.75-million tons (U.S. short) annually from the pier.

The firm would have to address collective impacts on the Hood Canal, its shorelines and neighboring residential areas; marine transportation on Hood Canal; traffic on Hood Canal Bridge; and geohydrology, the draft environmental impact statement says.

What's next

A 45-day comment period on the draft statement began Wednesday. Public comments must be received by Aug. 11.

Comment can be written or given at an open house set from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Port Ludlow Bay Club, 120 Spinnaker Lane.

There, members of the public can discuss the draft statement and the proposed project with county staff, applicant Thorndyke Resources and county Department of Community Development consultants.

After the comment period ends, the county will incorporate comments into a final environmental impact statement which will be used in the consideration of the final permit to be decided by the Jefferson County Hearing Examiner of the permit.

The final hearing will take place later this year, according to David Wayne Johnson, associate planner.

The document considered no other alternatives other than taking no action at all, saying that other sites considered for the project were eliminated because “they could not achieve project objectives at a lower environmental cost than the proposed site.”

Mitigation measures

Among mitigation measures mentioned in the draft statement are design-level hydraulic, geotechnical, structural and civil engineering studies for the proposed pier, including studies of the stability of the submarine slope, for the proposed pier and over-water conveyor delivery system.

The final type, size and location of piles to support the structures would be dependent on the result of those studies.

To ease the effect on bridge traffic, the draft statement says that all bridge openings should be limited to non-peak hours to minimize traffic backups.

The report lists concerns in 13 categories including air, water, noise and impact upon species both marine and on land, categorizing them in regard to the construction and operations processes.

Noise, light

The impact from noise and light can be minimized by imposing strict operational times during both the construction and operation, always between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with no activity allowed at night or on weekends.

As for general noise, the main mining area is located within the boundaries of a commercial tree farm that is removed from developed residential areas.

Once the county acts on the permit, Thorndyke must seek approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, the tribes, and acquire “about 19 permits and licenses from various [federal] agencies,” according to project manager Dan Baskins.

The project, known by some as “pit to pier,” has been in development since 2003, when then-applicant Fred Hill Materials applied for permits.

There is no completion date estimate at this time.

Baskins says the completed project will generate at least 2,000 local jobs.

Johnson recommends that people read the Environmental Elements and Collective Impacts and Mitigation sections.

“Any comment needs to be relevant to the information presented, and based on code and the discussion of best available science,” Johnson said.

Where to find it

The full text of the 383-page document is available at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Pit-to-Pier.

The draft statement and background information are at the Jefferson County Department of Community Development, 621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend. The phone number is 360-379-4940.

Electronic copies of the draft document can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-draftstatement.

Copies of the draft document on a CD are available for $2.50. To buy a CD, contact Johnson at 360-379-4465 or dwjohnson@co.jefferson.wa.us. Printed copies may be purchased at SOS Printing located at 2319 Washington St.

How to comment

Email comments are due by 5 p.m. Aug. 11 to t-roc@co.jefferson.wa.us and must include a complete current return mailing address.

Written comments sent via the postal service must be postmarked by Monday, Aug. 11 or hand-delivered by 4:30 p.m. that day to Thorndyke Resource DEIS c/o Jefferson County DCD, 621 Sheridan Street, Port Townsend WA 98368.


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

Last modified: June 26. 2014 11:26PM
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