Port Angeles city steps up role in Rayonier site

PORT ANGELES — The state’s redevelopment “community vision” project is the city’s first opportunity to be involved in what happens to the waterfront site that formerly housed Rayonier Inc.’s pulp mill, City Manager Mark Madsen says.

“We are not at a decision point tonight, but this is food for thought,” he told the City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

“The city has had no active role in the Rayonier site in 11 years.”

The 75-acre Rayonier property at 700 S. Ennis St. is in the eighth year of a toxic-waste cleanup project supervised by the state Department of Ecology, Rayonier and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.

In April 2007, the city began what Madsen described as “an aggressive program” focusing on future uses of the property.

It is the first of a three-phase program funded by a $50,000 grant from Ecology.

Earlier this year, the project to clean up the site was transferred from Ecology’s solid waste section to its toxics cleanup section.

The project also received a eightfold increase in personnel, additional funding and other resources and a number two ranking on a statewide priority list as part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s campaign to clean up Puget Sound by 2020.

Ecology is expanding its scope beyond cleaning up carcinogenic dioxins, PCBs and other toxins generated during the site’s 68 years as a mill — now dismantled — that transformed wood to pulp.

Ecology aims to clean up the entire Port Angeles Harbor.

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