PenPly stack now set to fall April 8

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Demolition of a 175-foot chimney stack that towers over the city has been delayed for two weeks.

The project, set for March 25, has been moved to April 8 because of recent inclement weather and the lengthy time it is taking to prepare the stack for its demise, the Port of Port Angeles announced this week.

Meanwhile, port officials are continuing to make plans for a public event the day the stack comes down to commemorate the site's long history as a mill, port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said Wednesday.

“We are planning a public event for the actual blasting of the stack,” Hartman said.

“We're just looking for a safe public place to put people.”

They also are mulling placement of a permanent display, such as a kiosk or a piece of mill equipment — for instance, a 13-ton mill press that remains on the property, Hartman said.

The chimney stack on the port-owned land at 439 Marine Drive will be torn down as part of the $1.6 million demolition of the former Peninsula Plywood site, which closed in December 2011 and which had been named for the original mill built on the site in 1941.

The mill operated under various names and owners until December 2011, when it was closed in arrears by more than $2.4 million to the port, city of Port Angeles and state Department of Labor and Industries.

By the end of next week, all 11 structures on the site will be demolished, and cleanup will be completed — except for the stack, Hartman said.

The chimney has been encased in protective plastic sheathing while workers chip and grind off the structure's asbestos-laden paint so that toxic dust and particles are not dispersed when the stack is brought down.

But a windstorm last week left the wrapping flapping in the wind, causing the two-week delay, Hartman said.

It also is taking longer than anticipated for workers to remove the asbestos coating, he said.

As of Wednesday, workers had torn up about 95 percent of the flooring in a demolished 180,000-square-foot mill building.

“They're kind of winding her down a bit,” Hartman said of the project.

Demolition and salvaging is being conducted by Rhine Demolition of Tacoma, which remains on schedule to finish the job by May 3, Hartman said.

Port commission President Jim Hallett said commissioners will receive an update on the project at their regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the port administrative office, 338 W. First St.

“I'm certainly pleased with what I've been told and what I've read and what I've observed,” Hallett said Wednesday.

He said commissioners will talk Monday about plans for commemorating the history of the property and its legacy on the North Olympic Peninsula.

“It's certainly a distinctive business entity and has a unique history and is something that built our community,” he said.

“We need to honor those folks who did that.”

The port is working on a two-pronged approach in that regard.

Port Human Resources Director Holly Hairell is trying to contact former mill workers who were employed at the site to invite them to the stack demolition, Hartman said.

Hairell was not available for comment Wednesday, but former mill employees can reach her at 360-417-3454 or hollyh@portofpa.com.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 06. 2013 5:13PM
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