PORT TOWNSEND – Changes to Port Townsend Paper Corp.’s mill air quality permit won’t be made until after the state Pollution Control Hearings Board hears an appeal in February.
And it’s uncertain if a public hearing will be held before changes are made.
Based on feedback from a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency technical review, the state Department of Ecology will amend the air operating permit it issued to the Port Townsend Paper mill in January of this year.
The three changes, however, won’t be made until the hearing on an appeal of the mill’s air emissions permit filed by former Port Townsend resident Cindy Buxton.
“It makes total sense to do that,” Nancy Helm, EPA federal and delegated air programs manager in Seattle, said Thursday.
“There might be some outcome of the appeal that may address some of the permit.”
Ecology spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said the changes possibly could be made without a public hearing.
“The expectation is that what we would do with EPA’s portion would be to roll that into the permit without reopening the permit.
“But that’s still up in the air.”
Schmanke added: “We are absolutely committed to making this work.”
Chuck Madison, vice president of human resources at the Port Townsend Paper mill, said, “Safety and environmental protection are core values of ours and top priorities of Port Townsend Paper Corporation.”
He said the mill, which employs 310 and is the county’s largest private employer, is working with Ecology and the EPA.
“Port Townsend Paper strives to meet or exceed environmental and safety standards, and we’re proud of our employees and our contribution to our community,” he said.
Helm, who has oversight of Ecology’s air-emissions permit issued this year to Port Townsend Paper, has asked that the kraft paper mill’s five-year air-emissions permit be reopened, citing process deficiencies.