Rayonier mill cleanup at $24 million — and counting

PORT ANGELES – It’s been seven years, and an estimated $24 million, since the cleanup of the Rayonier mill property began, but the actual cleanup won’t begin for at least two years.

The 75-acre Rayonier site still has low levels of dioxins, PCBs and other toxins generated during its 68 years as a mill -_ now dismantled -_ that transformed wood to pulp.

In 2000, it was estimated that the cleanup – overseen by the state Department of Ecology, in conjunction with Rayonier and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe – would take from three to five years.

Last March, Ecology director Jay Manning said the cleanup would be finished by 2009.

But in July, he said no timeline exists because the extent of cleanup needed is unknown.

Once cleanup begins, it is estimated that it will take about nine months.

But the project is now just at the third of seven steps necessary before cleanup can begin.

The draft remedial uplands investigation, which was finished in the fall, details the nature and extent of contamination in the soil, groundwater and plants in the parking lot area of the former mill site at 700 S. Ennis St.

The draft report released in October determined soil and water contamination at the Rayonier property is below dangerous levels at all but a couple of areas.

Dioxins are carcinogens.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are persistent – not biodegradable – and can cause a variety of problems, including nerve damage.

Public comment on the draft report closed in December.

The final report is due out sometime this spring, said Dana Dolloff, environmental affairs director for Rayonier, Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday.

The document consumes three binders reaching more than a foot high.

Dolloff said the remedial investigation of the property’s marine environment is going out for regulatory agency review by month’s end.

After those regulatory agencies review the report, and any necessary changes are made, it will be released for public comment later this year.

Dolloff will give a project update at the Port Angeles Business Association meeting set for 7:30 a.m. March 6 at Joshua’s Restaurant and Lounge, 113 DelGuzzi Drive.

He will be joined by Larry Dunn from the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and Bill Harris, the state Department of Ecology’s Rayonier project manager.

“We did another round of sampling this summer,” Dolloff said.

“So that data and new reports will be reviewed by agencies in March.”

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