A gate made of metal panels blocks the entrance to Midway Metals between Sequim and Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula daily News)

A gate made of metal panels blocks the entrance to Midway Metals between Sequim and Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula daily News)

Midway Metals owner working with Clallam County officials

Next steps toward cleanup include water tests near property

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have urged the Department of Community Development to continue pursuing a cleanup of a non-conforming scrapyard on U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

Code enforcement officer Diane Harvey told commissioners last week that Hearing Examiner Andrew Reeves ruled that Katrina Haymaker, owner of Midway Metals at 258010 U.S. Highway 101, was in violation of Title 7 of the county code and fined her $750.

Haymaker has submitted quotes for a fence and has purchased a license, as required in the order, Harvey said this week. Clallam County has granted a grace period for Haymaker as she works to secure a $1,000 surety bond.

Officials said Haymaker has already accrued $14,000 in fines for violation of county health regulations.

“I’m in favor of doing whatever we are able to do following the steps appropriately to effect some change,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said.

“It’s clearly been identified as a potentially significant environment hazard. There’s not a person in this county that is not upset when they go past it.”

Harvey said one of the next steps will be to conduct water tests near the property, something she believes the state Department of Ecology will pay for.

She said that the property owners in the past would not give county staff permission to conduct testing on the property, though the county will ask again. Nearby property owners downstream have granted permission.

“Once you start testing, you can do something,” Harvey said. “We’re in a position where there’s been no testing on this property for a long time.”

Testing in 2011 and 2012 showed that the soil had high levels of oil-range hydrocarbons, cadmium, lead, mercury and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, according to 2012 site investigation report conducted by GeoEngineers for Ecology.

Those tests showed groundwater was contaminated with high levels of arsenic, chromium, lead and dissolved arsenic and surface water is contaminated with lead, dissolved lead and polychlorinated biphenyls, the report says.

“We have some idea what’s on the property and we have an idea that lots of substance exceed … regulations,” Harvey said. “What would help us the most is to get onto the property and test.”

Harvey said the Agnew Irrigation District has granted permission to test water from its intake valve that is less than 300 feet away. That valve flows across the highway into a pond where water is then released to be used by farmers in the area.

A ditch from the property also flows into McDonald Creek, which has supported coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden trout.

County officials have presented information about Midway Metals to the state Department of Ecology, state Department of Licensing, state Attorney General’s Office and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Harvey told county commissioners earlier this month that the Attorney General’s Office had secured a felony conviction of a man who owned a similar property in King County.

Records show Haymaker is three years behind on property taxes and officials have said that it is at risk of foreclosure next year.

Clallam County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez said the county would not be liable for the cleanup if the county becomes in possession of the property.

Officials said the county is working with the state Department of Transportation to put up signage to discourage people from dumping illegally on the property. Harvey said the county is also coordinating with the state patrol in an effort to have a camera set up in the area.

“The point is we can build in additional discouragement [from dumping],” Ozias said. “Hopefully that will keep the problem from getting worse.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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