Agreement reached on Port Townsend Paper landfill after 18 months

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A landfill permit for Port Townsend Paper Corp. that has been contested for more than 18 months will be extended after a compromise was reached through several meetings with a mediator.

“We were able to sit down with all three parties and resolve all the issues,” said Kevin Scott, the paper company’s director of sustainability.

“There wasn’t one single issue, but there were lots of details that needed to be worked out.”

At issue was the nature of the permit since Port Townsend Paper had previously received a permit that qualified their landfill as “inert,” while Jefferson County and the state Department of Ecology argued for a more stringent limited-use permit.

Port Townsend Paper — the county’s largest private employer with nearly 300 workers — requested the permit which had been in effect since 1989 through its permit extension application in September 2012.

The county health department subsequently ruled in favor of the more stringent limited-use permit.

After an appeal and a review, the matter was due to be heard by the Pollution Control Hearing Board this summer.

After the mediation, Jefferson County Public Health has issued a permit to operate a limited purpose landfill to Port Townsend Paper.

Under the soon-to-be-signed settlement agreement, Ecology will not appeal the permit issuance and Port Townsend Paper will withdraw its appeal of the County’s previous permit denial before the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

As a result of mediation, Jefferson County Public Health, the state Department of Ecology and Port Townsend Paper have agreed to install two new groundwater monitoring wells, submit an updated closure plan and closure /post closure cost estimates and provide financial assurance for closure and post-closure maintenance and monitoring of the landfill, according to a press release from Jefferson County Public Health.

“The Limited Purpose Landfill provides the necessary environmental monitoring to protect human health and the environment,” the release states.

“The addition of two new monitoring wells between the landfill and Port Townsend Bay and the groundwater monitoring will provide the assurance that the landfill is not impacting groundwater.”

A key outcome of the process and the agreement is that Port Townsend Paper Company will provide financial assurance to cover the cost of closing the landfill and monitoring it after the landfill closes.

The amount of financial assurance will be dependent on the estimated costs of closure and post-closure activities, and requires that the costs be updated and reviewed annually.

There will be a public workshop at 6 p.m July 28 at 6 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., to discuss the new requirements and answer questions.

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

Last modified: July 07. 2014 6:32PM
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