The Western Port Angeles Harbor Group is planning a restoration pilot study that includes placing a 6-inch layer of clean sand on a 4,500-square-foot stretch of shallow subtidal area on the inside of Ediz Hook. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)​

Officials hope sand cap layer works as project restoration option at Ediz Hook

PORT ANGELES — Officials are preparing to apply a 6-inch layer of sand to an inside portion of Ediz Hook to test whether a sand cap could be a potential restoration solution.

Commissioners of the Port of Port Angeles, one of five members of the Western Port Angeles Harbor Group, approved the port’s portion of the costs for the project — up to $77,000 — on Tuesday.

“We’re looking at different restoration options and it’s looking like [this] may be a good option on the inside of Ediz Hook,” said Jesse Waknitz, environmental manager for the port.

“Because it’s such a dynamic environment, we want to see if it’s feasible.”

Other members of the group are the city of Port Angeles, Georgia-Pacific LLC, Nippon Paper Industries USA Co. Ltd. and Merrill &Ring, which were identified by the state Department of Ecology as potentially liable parties after pollutants were found in the harbor.

During a 2008 Ecology investigation of the harbor, officials found dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, semi-volatile organics such as phenols and phthalates, ammonia and sulfides from decomposing wood debris, and toxic metals such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium and zinc.

Each member of the group is paying 25 percent of the total cost for the project, Waknitz said, except for Nippon and Merrill &Ring, which will pay a combined amount.

To date, all costs to the port associated with this work have been reimbursed by its insurance.

The five parties entered into an agreement with environmental consultant Anchor QEA in December 2013 to provide support and navigate the potential natural resource damage liabilities in Port Angeles Harbor.

The plan is to drop a 6-inch layer of sand on 4,500 square feet of shallow subtidal area where there is wood debris on the inside of Ediz Hook, about 10 feet below sea level.

Monitoring of the cap would begin immediately after construction and would continue through spring 2018.

It would include measuring uniformity and stability of the sand and surveying for invertebrate abundance and sampling of sulfide concentrations in the sand cap.

Waknitz said sand caps have been used in other areas for restoration, but because of how dynamic the harbor is, it isn’t known for sure if the idea will work.

He anticipated work would likely start in May. Work will be overseen by Anchor, which will award the contract, he said.

The data would be summarized in a report that will be used by the Western Port Angeles Harbor Group in future negotiations with the Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council on potential restoration actions.

The city of Port Angeles will be the State Environmental Policy Act lead agency for the proposal and will conduct the required environmental review for the city Shoreline Master Program, according to the port.

Efforts to reach City Manager Dan McKeen on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The project is expected to require permits and approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rebecca Lawson, Ecology’s southwest regional manager, said another aspect is to see whether eelgrass will take to the sand.

She said the plan is to use eelgrass removed during the U.S. Navy’s pier project at Ediz Hook and relocate it to the sand cap.

“The trustee council and Western Port Angeles Harbor Group are trying to take advantage of an opportunity to see if this 6-inch sand layer can be used more extensively as part of restoration work,” she said.

Waknitz said that portion is being done by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and is not part of the Western Port Angeles Harbor Group’s work order.

“It’s an opportunity for us to work together,” he said.

Efforts to reach the tribe were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.