Concrete plant waits for outcome of graving yard impasse

PORT ANGELES — Fred Hill Materials Inc. has winterized its $1 million concrete plant at the Hood Canal Bridge graving yard while the company awaits the fate of the mammoth onshore dry dock.

Winterizing means draining fluids from plant machinery that could freeze and cause damage.

Even if the weather were warm, the facility on Marine Drive is designed to produce 70,000 cubic yards of concrete for the graving yard and the bridge.

It’s too big and too fast for normal construction jobs, so the company is serving other Port Angeles projects from its plant in Sequim.

“We’re watching the situation as closely as anybody else,” said Dan Baskins, project manger for Fred Hill Materials, on Monday.

“The situation” is the shutdown of the graving yard site following discovery of thousands of Native American ancestral remains and artifacts 16 months ago.

The graving yard was meant to build huge concrete anchors, pontoons, and bridge decks for 14 new sections of the Hood Canal span’s crumbling east end.

The yard is located on the Port Angeles waterfront just east of the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill.

16 months of discoveries

Construction on the yard began in August 2003 but stopped three weeks later when excavators uncovered human remains and artifacts from the 1,700-year-old Native American village called Tse-whit-zen.

Archaeologists and members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe continued to discover burials — many of them desecrated — over the next 16 months.

On Dec. 10, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles urged the state Department of Transportation to abandon the Port Angeles site and build its anchors and pontoons elsewhere.

A majority of members of the Washington Transportation Commission last week agreed that the project couldn’t continue without the tribe’s approval.

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