Port Angeles to get state funds for closed landfill monitoring

PORT ANGELES — City of Port Angeles and state Department of Ecology officials have reached a preliminary agreement on a one-of-a-kind, $2.2 million allocation to monitor and maintain the city’s closed blufftop landfill at the west end of 18th Street.

In a $28 million project, including $6.2 million in post-closure costs, 400,000 cubic yards of accumulated garbage was moved upland — and away from its perch as close as 11 feet from the eroding bluff lip.

The edge rises 135 feet above a Strait of Juan de Fuca beach — a beach upon which garbage fell with disturbing consistency, city and Ecology officials said.

City Manager Dan McKeen told city council members Tuesday that the city will receive the funding under a draft interagency agreement with Ecology that council members will consider at their regular Dec. 20 meeting.

McKeen said the state Legislature approved the allocation after North Olympic Peninsula’s 24th District lawmakers, Reps. Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, both of Sequim, and Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam worked hard “in a very, very difficult budget climate” to make it happen.

The $2.2 million will help cover post-landfill-closure costs.

It obligates the city to continue to monitor the facility for methane emissions, to monitor the groundwater and to conduct routine maintenance, said Peter Lyon, regional manager for Ecology’s waste resources program.

“The unique part is that Ecology does not have any existing grant or loan programs to pay for these types of landfill-related-type costs or operation costs,” Lyon said Wednesday.

The funding was approved by lawmakers before they completed their 2016 legislative session.

It was derived from bonds the state sold to fund capital projects.

The post-closure plan must be approved by the county health department and Ecology by Jan. 17, city Finance Director Byron Olson said.

After that, $2.2 million will be wired to the city.

Money covering post-closure costs must be set aside in a secure reserve account, officials said.

It must be used over the next 10 years.

Post-closure costs will total $300,000 to $400,000 annually, Olson said.

“There are all sorts of costs in making sure the landfill in closed status is not becoming an issue of concern for the city or the residents of this region,” he said.

Ecology will review those costs annually.

“This was the first time Ecology had done this kind of program,” Olson added.

“Normally, they do construction projects and cleanup.”

Lyon recalled visiting the site about eight years ago with Jennifer Garcelon of county Health and Human Services, standing on the beach and looking up at the bluff.

“Some of the liner from the old landfill became visibly exposed,” Lyon recalled.

The bluff has since been shaved back.

“Now, you see a big shelf where that was,” Lyon said.

“Now, the bluff is much shorter.

“The city of Port Angeles stepped up eventually and took care of the issue before it actually did fail.”

The project included augmenting ends of the seawall at the end of the bluff to reduce erosion.

The $2.2 million was in the state 2016 supplemental capital budget for Ecology, Tharinger said Wednesday.

“The situation was, the city needs an escrow account to close the landfill,” he said.

“We wanted to protect the solid-waste ratepayers from any more increases.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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