The dock and shoreline area of the former Rayonier Mill site is shown in Port Angeles in August. (Dave Pitman/Olympic Aerial Solutions)

The dock and shoreline area of the former Rayonier Mill site is shown in Port Angeles in August. (Dave Pitman/Olympic Aerial Solutions)

Open house slated on $24 million cleanup of Rayonier site

Gathering set for Wednesday in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — The decades-old Rayonier pulp mill site cleanup is back on the public’s radar with an estimated $24 million cleanup plan.

The state agency coordinating the effort to rid the parcel and adjacent waters of pollution is hosting an open house Wednesday on the most recent iteration of the industrial site’s future — and Rayonier officials will be in attendance.

The 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. meeting is at Olympic Medical Center’s Linkletter Hall, 939 Caroline St., Port Angeles.

Ecology will explore the agency’s newly devised cleanup options for the 75-acre upland area, a portion of which did not contain industrial buildings, and for the mill-stained waters of Port Angeles Harbor.

“It’s been a long road, and it’s still a long road ahead, but I feel like a lot of things are coming together,” Rebecca Lawson, state Department of Ecology southwest region manager, said Monday.

The Cleanup Alternatives Evaluation Report, also called Volume 3 of a series of technical reports on the cleanup, will be the focus of Wednesday’s meeting.

It was preceded by the Upland Data Summary Report (Volume 1) and Marine Data Summary Report (Volume 2).

The three reports, a fact sheet and other Ecology information on the cleanup can be viewed at tinyurl.com/PDN-RayonierCleanup.

The fact sheet has more than a dozen links to all things Rayonier cleanup.

“It will probably be five to seven construction seasons to get all this work done,” Lawson said.

“That’s probably one of the things we’ll touch on at the public meetings, to manage expectations.”

Dock and jetty removal in tandem with sediment mitigation could start in 2021, the beginning of the five- to seven-year window, Lawson said.

Lawson said annual work periods are restricted by “fish window” protections for migrating salmon that limit in-water work for several months every year, the same kinds of restrictions that held up construction of the submarine escort vessel pier at Ediz Hook.

The Rayonier site was pocketed with PCBs, dioxins and other toxic substances that also have contaminated sediment in the 1,325 acres of eastern Port Angeles Harbor that the company is responsible for cleaning up.

Preferred cleanup options include dredging the harbor floor and capping upland pockets of pollution, according to Volume 3.

The $24 million cost will be borne by Rayonier, Lawson said.

That does not include what Rayonier has already spent since 2000 on cleanup, which was not available Monday.

Volume 3 calls for excavating 0.5 acres of mill site to more than 1 foot deep and 10 acres to 1 foot on waterfront mill property on an industrial portion that is primarily covered with cement.

It sits behind a tall fence that separates the parcel from the Olympic Discovery Trail.

An additional 10 acres would be capped to stifle pollutants that have lingered despite Rayonier’s removal of what company officials told Peninsula Daily News in 2009 was 20,000 tons of low-level contaminated soil.

“We have some lower concentrations that are still above our cleanup level,” Lawson said Monday.

The meeting Wednesday will consist of a half-hour open house for one-on-one questions and answers followed by an hourlong presentation and closing with a second half-hour open house.

In 2014, Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc., the owner of the site, split off from Rayonier Inc., taking ownership of the property 2 miles east of downtown Port Angeles.

Two company representatives were on their way to the meeting Monday, company spokesman Eric Johnson said Monday.

Johnson said Carla Yetter, vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs, and Warren Snyder, environmental engineering senior manager, will not take part in Ecology’s presentation but will be present for the open-house sessions.

Public comments on Volumes 1, 2 and 3 are being accepted through Oct. 28 and can be made by accessing the fact sheet at tinyurl.com/PDN-RayonierCleanup.

The mill, which opened in 1930, shut down March 1, 1997.

Cleanup to address 67 years of pollution is being handled by Ecology with oversight by the EPA.

The site includes a Klallam tribal cemetery dating to the 1800s or earlier.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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