PORT ANGELES — McKinley Paper Co. has received preliminary approval from two state air-quality agencies to install new equipment to manufacture heavyweight liner and bag-grade paper, increasing production and spiking air pollution — but not exceeding regulatory emissions limits, state officials say.
The state Department of Ecology and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCCA) will conduct a hearing on permits for the $600,000 project from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Clallam County courthouse, ORCAA announced Wednesday.
McKinley wants to restart operation of the shuttered Ediz Hook mill 2 miles west of downtown Port Angeles by Dec. 31.
The company purchased the pulp and paper mill from Japanese-owned Nippon Paper Industries USA in 2017, when it manufactured lighter weight paper and newsprint, for $20.6 million.
The sale included Nippon’s $91 million biomass cogeneration plant, which can produce steam from the mill and surplus electricity for sale as green energy to power companies.
The new equipment will generate enough formaldehyde to increase the maximum lifetime risk of cancer by about 0.9 in one million, according to tests at a commercial location east of McKinley, according to Ecology’s June 2019 Health Impact Assessment Recommendation report (tinyurl.com/PDN-Ecology Recommendation).
The maximum lifetime risk increases by 0.02 in one million for a home south of McKinley, located 2 miles west of downtown Port Angeles.
State law allows an increased risk of up to 10 in one million from new sources of air pollution.
“McKinley’s emissions will add to existing air pollutant exposures,” according to the report.
“This increase in emissions is not likely to contribute to long- or short-term health hazards near the facility,” the report said.
“Acute eye and upper respiratory tract irritation hazards are not likely to occur at any off-site location.”
Nippon used 20 percent to 25 percent recycled fiber from paper product to generate gross production of 800 air-dried tons per day for newsprint and light-grade paper.
McKinley will produce 840 air-dried tons per day of heavyweight liner and bag grades of paper per from 100 percent recycled paper and 250,000 tons of containerboard annually at the plant.
McKinley’s Notice of Construction application is at tinyurl.com/PDN-NoticeConstruction.
Owned by the American subsidiary of the Mexican paper-maker Bio Pappel, McKinley shut down the plant after purchasing it in anticipation of retooling the facility for heavier-grade products.
The cogeneration plant’s condensing steam turbine will be replaced with a back-pressure steam turbine, “reducing, if not eliminating, use of the cooling towers,” according to Ecology’s Notice of Construction (tinyurl.com/PDN-EcologyNotice).
“None of the changes will increase the boiler’s design heat rate or potential emissions,” according to the notice.
ORCAA based its preliminary approval for a notice of construction for the improvements on the Health Impact Assessment Report — Stock Preparation Project, Port Angeles, Washington, conducted by Ramboll US Corp. (tinyurl.com/PDN-McKinleyReport).
Ecology and ORCAA staff reviewed the report before recommending approval, ORCAA Executive Director Fran McNair said Thursday.
“Our engineers evaluated it,” she said.
“They don’t just take it at face value.
“[McKinley] made changes based on our recommendations.
“The message here is that their emissions will not impact the community, based on what they are doing to control emissions.”
ORCAA will continue to monitor the cogeneration plant “as part of the whole project,” McNair added.
Improvements to the mill will include adding new cleaning and screening equipment, upgrading the pulping process, and adding an air flotation system to clarify effluent.
Two existing paper machines will be modified to produce the heavier, stronger grades of paper required for the thicker product.
The company also will covert its recycle pulp plant to a continuous pulper that can produce 900 oven-dried tons of pulp per day.
A cardboard tub pulper and two mechanical refiner lines that produced pulp will be decommissioned.
Bob Sextro of Sequim, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club, Washington State Chapter, said Thursday he had not yet examined the Ecology and ORCAA documents related to preliminary approval of the project.
The chapter unsuccessfully sued Nippon over the cogeneration plant, alleging the company was not using best available control technology for the biomass boiler.
McKinley officials did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The full set of documents from Ecology, ORCAA and McKinley is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-McKinleyProject.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].