Port Angeles approves $39,000 more for harbor contamination study

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City Council members Tuesday night approved another chunk of funds for the ongoing study of contaminants in the western portion of Port Angeles Harbor.

Port Angeles City Council members approved 5-1, with Councilwomen Cherie Kidd opposed and Sissi Bruch abstaining, an additional $39,050 for the ongoing remedial investigation and feasibility study of toxin-contaminated sediment at the bottom of western Port Angeles Harbor.

“That additional cost would be reimbursed to us by insurance companies,” City Attorney Bill Bloor said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Bloor said after the meeting that reimbursement would come from insurance policies the city took out in the 1970s and 1980s against sudden and unexpected pollution contamination.

“I have difficulty approving any more money until I know we can relieve our taxpayers of this harbor study tax,” Kidd said in explaining her no vote.

Bruch abstained because she works for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, which is an “interested party” in the cleanup but not responsible for it.

The city has estimated its total share of the harbor study required by the state Department of Ecology to be about $1.2 million.

The additional money approved Tuesday would help pay for more sediment core sampling of the harbor and finalizing technical information with Ecology, Bloor said.

In fall 2012, the city instituted a 30-month surcharge on residents’ utility bills — between $4.15 and $4.50 monthly per household — to pay the city’s share of the study.

Ecology has named the city, the Port of Port Angeles, Georgia-Pacific LLC, Nippon Paper Industries USA and forest services company Merrill & Ring as at least partially responsible for removing potentially harmful substances, such as heavy metals, found in the sediment lining the bottom of the western portion of Port Angeles Harbor.

After completing sediment study reports in 2008 and 2012, Ecology said the contaminants were the result of past industrial wood-processing activity and untreated stormwater and wastewater flowing into the harbor from the city’s combined sewer outfalls.

In May 2013, City Council members signed off on an agreed order that lays out how the city will work with the port and the three private companies to determine the best way to clean up the western part of the harbor.

In other action, the council unanimously approved a $127,221 contract with ADS Environmental Services, an Alabama-based firm with an office in Seattle, for monitoring of the city’s combined sewer outfalls.

Craig Fulton, city public works and utilities director, said the city’s federal pollution discharge elimination system permit requires the city to monitor all combined sewer overflows, which dump untreated wastewater and stormwater into Port Angeles Harbor during heavy rain events.

The contract will pay for ADS monitoring these flows for duration, volume and frequency for the next two years, Fulton said.

The city is in the middle of a $40 million project to limit overflows by 2016 or face fines from Ecology.

Also Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a $198,053 contract with Tacoma-based Salish Construction to replace aging electric transmission poles along the 5th/6th street alley between I Street and B streets.

The poles are some of the oldest in the city, Fulton said, and are badly rotted.

Salish Construction’s bid came in about 0.9 percent below the city engineer’s estimate of $200,000.

The five other bids the city received for the project were more than the engineer’s estimate, according to city figures.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 02. 2014 8:17PM
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