PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has ratcheted up pressure on the owner of Midway Metals to clean up the scrapyard between Port Angeles and Sequim.
After a closed executive session Tuesday, the three commissioners voted to direct the prosecuting attorney’s office to prepare an injunction against Katrina Haymaker, who owns the illegal dump at 258010 U.S. Highway 101.
“The purpose of this is to say that we’re taking this seriously and we’re trying to move the process along,” said David Alvarez, Clallam County chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney.
“We feel that all our reasonable efforts have been futile,” he added. “We’re trying to move into a different direction with a little bit more firmness.”
Haymaker could not be reached for comment last week.
She has until Oct. 30 to meet performance standards under Title 7 of the county code as required by the county’s hearings examiner, Alvarez said.
Haymaker could be found in contempt of court if she continues to conduct illegal business at the site after the case goes to court.
“The idea would be that we would tell her that we tried to be reasonable, we’ve sent letters, we’ve had site visits, and this really has to stop,” Alvarez said in a Thursday interview.
“It’s not sufficient for her to say that people are doing it illegally without her permission. She has to figure out a way to try and stop that.”
Haymaker has been ordered to put up a bond, raise a fence around the property and keep records, Alvarez said.
Clallam County commissioners received a petition from 260 neighbors calling for action at the Midway Metal site, Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn said.
“People have been wanting to see something happen there for a long time,” Winborn said in a Wednesday interview.
Midway Metals, which is highly visible from the highway near Barr Road, has been found to be the source of groundwater pollution, according to hearing examiner records.
A fire that occurred at the site in 2019 heightened concerns about chemicals stored on the property, Winborn said.
In January, county commissioners sent a letter to the state Department of Ecology seeking support for the remediation of the Midway Metals site.
The solid waste scrapyard near McDonald Creek has been listed as a priority by Ecology since 2008. It is polluting the soil and groundwater with mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrocarbons, arsenic, total chromium and other chemicals, county officials have said.
“The county has been working hard via our code enforcement effort to achieve voluntary compliance, eventually ramping up our efforts to include at least two hearings in front of the hearings examiner,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said in a Wednesday email.
“So far we have been met with little or no success. Many residents are concerned with the status of the Midway Metals site, as are county officials, and we will continue to focus on finding solutions that bring the site into compliance.”
Winborn, the nation’s only elected planning director, said the code enforcement division the Department of Community Development had been working to catch up on 30 to 40 years worth of code violations.
“It takes a lot of effort,” Winborn said.
“That’s why it’s so important to be proactive and make sure that things don’t get out of hand.”
Commissioners held an executive session Tuesday to discuss next steps for the Midway Metals site.
“Solid waste continues to accumulate there and neighboring citizens are requesting the county act to stop the illegal dumping,” according to an executive summary to the executive session.
“The Prosecutor’s Office seeks the approval of the county commission to file a lawsuit against the owners of that site.”
After the executive session, the board reconvened in an open session. They directed the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to “proceed with preparation of an injunctive cause of action in relation to this code enforcement matter and authorized Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Alvarez to be the signatory on the letter of engagement with the law firm engaged by the Risk Pool,” Deputy Clerk of the Board Morgann Halencak said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].