Port to view $1.7 million payout for Port Angeles Harbor restoration

Commissioners to discuss settlement Tuesday

PORT ANGELES — A $1.7 million settlement that would help pay for restoration of polluted west Port Angeles Harbor could get the go-ahead Tuesday.

Port of Port Angeles commissioners will consider the pact at their 9 a.m. meeting as part of an overall $8.5 million settlement.

The agreement would be covered by the port and four other parties in a pact with a trustee council of federal, state and tribal entities.

Trustees include the Lower Elwha Klallam and Jamestown S’Klallam tribes, the state Department of Ecology and federal Department of Interior.

The port’s portion of the federal Natural Resource Damages settlement agreement will be paid by insurance, Executive Director Karen Goschen said in a report to the commissioners available at portofpa.com on the “Agendas and Minutes” page.

Commissioners authorized Goschen to negotiate the agreement. They are required to approve settlements over $25,000.

Joining the port in paying for habitat restoration are Georgia-Pacific, Nippon Paper Industries USA, Merrill & Ring, and Owens Corning, each of which will also pay $1.7 million to settle the natural resource claim, Goschen said.

The trustee council informed the port and the other parties they were potentially responsible and liable parties for recovery for natural resource damages to wildlife and other natural resources under their trusteeship, Gosschen said in her report.

“Recovery can include restoring, replacing, or acquiring equivalent natural resources or compensating for injuries,” Goschen said.

The city of Port Angeles also has been named as a liable party for federal natural resource damages restoration.

But city officials reached a separate $800,000 settlement with the trustee council in a pact approved Feb. 2 by the city council.

“When the Trustees communicated that the consent decree was ready to be lodged, the five settling defendants provided their signed signature pages to the consent decree and each deposited $1.7 million in the port’s Port Angeles Harbor account to ensure the full $8.5 million payment will be made when the consent decree is approved and entered by federal district court,” Goschen said in her report.

“The Trustees intend to file or ‘lodge’ this consent decree at the same time it lodges the city’s consent decree,” according to Goschen’s report.

“We can expect the consent decree to be lodged with the court next week. Once it is lodged, the decree will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.”

Limited seating under COVID-19 restrictions is available for in-person attendance at the meeting at the port administrative building meeting room at 338 W. First St. in Port Angeles.

To join the meeting online, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88017964988 or call 253-215-8782. Use meeting ID 880 1796 4988.

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

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