PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is exploring options for cleaning up what is potentially one of the county’s most visible scrapyards, including whether it should involve the state Attorney General’s Office.
Code Enforcement Officer Diane Harvey told commissioners Monday that officials have already presented information about Midway Metals, located at 258010 U.S. Highway 101, to the state Department of Ecology, Department of Licensing, state Attorney General’s Office and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
During that discussion, officials looked at a similar case in King County that involved the Attorney General’s Office securing a felony conviction and a sentence that required a Renton property owner to spend 30 days in jail, pay $15,000 in fines and to cooperate with authorities’ efforts to clean up the site.
Midway Metals, which has functioned as a scrapyard on the south side of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim for more than two decades, has been listed as a “priority 1” contamination site by Ecology since 2008, Harvey said.
Testing in 2011 and 2012 showed that the soil has high levels of oil-range hydrocarbons, cadmium, lead, mercury and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, she said.
Groundwater is contaminated with high levels of arsenic, chromium, lead and dissolved arsenic and surface water is contaminated with lead, dissolved lead and polychlorinated biphenyls, she said.
“This property’s proximity to Highway 101 and McDonald Creek, together with the recent oil spill and multiple fires in June raises serious risk for our county, the environment, our citizens and our first responders,” Harvey said.
The property is owned by Katrina Haymaker, who attended the meeting. She declined to comment.
Court records show Haymaker purchased the property from Gary Haymaker in 2013. Court records said Gary Haymaker operated a metal recycling business on the property prior to the sale and that their intent was to continue to operate a business on that property.
A search on the state Department of Revenue’s website does not show a business license associated with Midway Metals or that property. Katrina Haymaker owns Metal Investment Group in Port Orchard.
County officials and the Clallam County Hearing Examiner determined that the Haymakers had abandoned the Midway Metals property for 18 months and that the non-conforming use should be terminated.
That led to the Haymakers filing a petition for review under the Land Use Petition Act in 2017.
Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour ruled May 8, 2018, that the Haymakers did not abandon the property and that the non-conforming use of the property was still allowed.
Court records say the county maintains that the Haymakers were not operating a business during that time, but the county also had directed the Haymakers to remove a sign identifying the business.
“The county still has various code enforcement options in regard to the property,” Coughenour wrote.
“What’s happening here is dumping of all kinds, not just scrap metal,” Harvey said. “There’s no workers, at least from what we have seen. There doesn’t appear to be any control as to what is being dumped on the site — no control or the proper handling of chemical substances and no control to know what has been recently dumped on the site.”
Harvey said a drainage ditch from the property leads to an intake valve that belongs to the Agnew Irrigation District. That valve flows across the highway into a pond where water is then released to be used by farmers in the area.
“They use it to water their livestock, they use it to water their fruit trees, they use it to water their alfalfa, their orchard grass,” she said.
A second drainage ditch continues to McDonald Creek, which has supported coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden trout, she said.
The county wrote a letter to Katrina Haymaker concerning her failure to comply with Title 7 of the Clallam County Code, which deals with business licenses and regulations, Harvey said.
Katrina Haymaker has a hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 in front of the Clallam County Hearing Examiner regarding those violations, Harvey said. The hearing examiner would likely render a decision in the weeks following the hearing.
Haymaker is three years behind on property taxes and the property is at risk of foreclosure next year, Harvey said.
Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn requested the county discuss the “legal strategy moving forward” during an executive session, but commissioners opted to wait until after a decision is made by the hearing examiner.
Commissioner Mark Ozias said he is open to discussing steps forward during an executive session, but that he wanted to be sure the closed-door meeting is properly noticed to the public.
The board is legally allowed to hold an executive session following a scheduled meeting without notice if it pertains to potential litigation.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].