A vehicle passes through the McKinley Paper Company mill in Port Angeles on Monday. The company has applied for permits to install new equipment. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A vehicle passes through the McKinley Paper Company mill in Port Angeles on Monday. The company has applied for permits to install new equipment. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

McKinley Paper applies for permits for new equipment

$600,000 project planned at Port Angeles site

PORT ANGELES — McKinley Paper Co. has applied for permits from state and local agencies to install $600,000 in new equipment at the Ediz Hook site, according to its city shoreline development application.

The company announced plans in September to reopen the former Nippon Paper Industries USA paper mill this September.

A company official said Monday that remains the goal, acknowledging there might be delays.

“We are cooperating with all the relevant local, state and federal agencies to start up as close to our intended date as possible, understanding that delays may occur, and we are doing all we can to keep our intended start,” McKinley General Manager Edward Bortz said in a prepared statement.

Bortz said he cannot comment further about the timeline.

“Roughly 200” temporary workers will be employed in the new equipment project, according to the company’s city permit application.

Construction and equipment installation will begin in the second half of this year, according to the city of Port Angeles’ environmental checklist for the project.

McKinley must obtain a city Substantial Shoreline Development Permit and an Olympic Region Clean Air Agency notice of construction air-quality permit that requires a state Department of Ecology Tier-2 air-quality analysis.

Fran McNair, executive director of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, said a public hearing also may be required by ORCAA.

The project needs an ORCAA permit because the equipment has the potential for emitting pollutants, she said.

Tier 2 is a source that emits less than 10 tons per year, Ecology spokesman Larry Altose said.

The analysis would include demonstrating the amount of expected emissions based on what is being manufactured and the process and equipment being used, he said.

The equipment will allow the mill to produce 100 percent recycled containerboard and will include a new, 57-foot-long roll handling conveyor.

“The project will provide the infrastructure to restart the mill and return to full employment,” according to the shoreline application.

“We anticipate adding [about] 120 employees to current staffing once the mill is up to full operation.”

About 150 employees worked at the mill before it began laying off workers, closing in April 2017 with a skeleton crew and its new owner.

McKinley is the American subsidiary of Mexican paper giant Bio Pappel.

McKinley’s corporate office is in Albuquerque, N.M. The company also operates a mill similar to its planned Port Angeles plant in New Mexico.

McNair said the length of time it will take for the company to get the permits will make it unlikely McKinley will reopen the plant in September.

McNair said McKinley officials she met with about the project told her that the mill will start up by the end of 2019 or in the first quarter of 2020.

“They won’t be able to make it, and they don’t intend to make it,” she said of the September 2019 target. “They said they are not even thinking September anymore.”

A September 2019 startup date is “a pretty short timeline,” McNair added.

“We want them to have a strong permit. We want them to have a strong beginning. That’s the key to success for all of it.”

Bortz said his prepared statement would have to suffice in response to McNair’s depiction of the meeting.

McKinley bought the 99-year-old mill, which includes a biomass electricity-cogeneration plan, from Nippon in March 2017 for $20.6 million.

Nippon manufactured lighter-grade telephone-book paper and newsprint then the containerboard that McKinley will produce with recycled cardboard.

The construction project is valued at $600,000, according to the company’s city shoreline permit application.

It will involve replacing the existing pulper with one capable of supplying 100 percent recycled material for the containerboard.

The use of 100 percent recycled pulp also will render the existing refiner mill obsolete, and it will be decommissioned.

Foundations 2 feet deep will be dug to support the new equipment, which will include the roll-handling conveyor that will stretch between mill buildings with about 25 feet clearance above Marine Drive.

The structure housing of the existing roll conveyor will be replaced.

“The future paper production will not fit through the existing structure and are too heavy for the current structure,” according to the application.

Mill utilities also will be removed then newly installed, according to the permit.

Construction will include standard demolition and earth-moving.

“The project supports McKinley’s long-term sustainability goal to make 100 percent recycled paper,” according to the application.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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