New Port Townsend Paper mill landfill regulations to be discussed at meeting tonight

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — State, county and Port Townsend Paper Corp. representatives are expected to discuss details of an agreement on the paper mill’s landfill at 6 p.m. today.

A permit issued this month for the mill’s landfill changes requirements for its operation.

At tonight’s public workshop at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., representatives of the mill, the state Department of Ecology and Jefferson County Public Health are expected to discuss the new requirements and answer questions.

The company, which had operated under a permit for inert waste since 2004, applied for renewal in September 2012.

The Jefferson County Public Health Department denied the request, saying the landfill should be permitted under the more stringently-regulated limited purpose classification.

Mill officials appealed the decision. Mediation among representatives of the paper company, the county and Ecology led to the present permit, effective July 3, which will expire in five years.

The permit allows disposal of lime grit — also known as slaker grit — boiler ash, inert wastes and incidental metal residual material from the combustion of boiler fuel at the mill which, with nearly 300 workers, is the county’s largest private employer.

Port Townsend Paper must install two groundwater monitoring wells, one by the end of this year and another during the first quarter of 2016, and is responsible for quarterly groundwater monitoring.

It must 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.

The company has agreed to monitor for landfill gases, especially methane, for three years, the county health department said in a fact sheet on the agreement.

If no landfill gases are detected above a specific level during that time, the company can discontinue monitoring them.

“Ash and lime grit do not contain significant quantities of organic matter that would decompose and generate methane or other harmful gases,” the county said.

The company will not be required to use a liner, which is generally necessary for landfills.

That’s because of low rainfall, tests that show heavy metals in the leachate being below regulatory thresholds and because ground water will be monitored, the county said.

The company also will be allowed to cover the landfill with soil and plants rather than with a cover that includes a layer of plastic.

“The approach has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being suitable for sites with characteristics similar to Port Townsend,” the county said.

The company had operated an inert waste landfill at the mill from 1983 to 1990.

In 1989, Jefferson County Public Health issued an inert waste landfill permit, and Ecology appealed the decision to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board, which ruled in Ecology’s favor.

From 1990 until 2004, the landfill was permitted under the limited purpose classification.

In 2004, after Ecology issued new solid waste standards, the mill applied for an inert waste permit.

Ecology recommended it remain a limited purpose landfill but supported a variance to a requirement for a liner.

However, the county health department approved the inert waste permit in 2004. Ecology did not appeal the decision and it remained in effect.

When the health department denied the 2012 application for an inert waste landfill permit, mill officials argued that since neither regulations nor the content of the landfill had changed since 2004, the permit should not either.

The health department said that the 2004 permit was issued in error.

“The waste stream generated by the pulp and paper mill . . . is capable of producing leachate or emissions that have the potential to negatively impact soil, groundwater, surface water or air quality and thus the PTPC waste stream cannot satisfy the criteria for inert waste,” concluded the county’s denial of the inert waste permit.

Port Townsend Paper, Corp., appealed the decision. The Pollution Control Hearings Board was to hear the appeal this summer.

Part of the agreement leading to the issuance of the most recent permit is that Ecology will not appeal it and Port Townsend Paper will withdraw its appeal to the state.

For documents pertaining to the permit, see http://tinyurl.com/PDN-milllandfill.

Last modified: July 27. 2014 6:37PM
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