Ecology joins with Jefferson County in mill landfill case

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The state Department of Ecology has joined with the Jefferson County Public Health Department in recommending the denial of an inert-waste permit to the Port Townsend Paper Corp.

“Ecology has joined the case on our behalf,” said Jared Keefer, the county’s director of environmental health and water quality.

“They will be co-leads in the case, showing that the ruling that the permit should not be inert is not just the opinion of the county.”

Said Peter Lyon, Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources Program resources manager, in an email: “We agree with the county’s assessment that such issues cannot be adequately addressed without correcting the landfill’s misclassification as inert.”

Ecology filed a motion to intervene Feb. 20.

The matter is scheduled to be addressed Aug. 20-21 by the Pollutions Control Hearings Board in the agency’s Tumwater office.

“Ecology intervened because we believe it’s important for the Port Townsend Paper Corp. to monitor groundwater and to provide financial assurance for closure costs should the landfill ever cease operations,” Lyon wrote.

“If the landfill were classified as a limited purpose landfill, as opposed to an inert landfill, the company would have to meet these criteria.”

Calls requesting comment from the paper mill company Wednesday were not returned.

Company representatives previously have argued that the regulations and processes have not changed, so the permit should be renewed.

If the Pollutions Control Hearings Board rules in the company’s favor, it will instruct Jefferson County to grant the permit.

If the ruling is upheld, the denial of the permit will stand, though either side could ask the Superior Court for reconsideration.

Until the ruling, the company will continue operation under the inert permit, Keefer said.

Port Townsend Paper — the county’s largest private employer, with nearly 300 workers — requested in September an extension of its inert-waste permit, which had been in effect since 1989.

The county health department said Oct. 17 that the company should be required to attain a more stringent limited-use permit.

The mill appealed the decision Oct. 22, triggering a Nov. 27 review.

Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, issued a denial of the appeal Dec. 3.

The paper company filed its appeal to the Pollution Control Hearings Board in January.

________

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

Last modified: March 06. 2013 5:02PM
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