Rayonier mill site cleanup put on Ecology’s fast track

PORT ANGELES — Toxic cleanup at the site of the former Rayonier mill is now on a fast track.

Eight years after it began, the cleanup of the 75-acre property at 700 S. Ennis St., in Port Angeles has been transferred from the state Department of Ecology’s solid waste section to its toxics cleanup section.

What that means is that the slow-moving cleanup project will receive more funding, more manpower and more expertise than at any time since Ecology took it over from the federal Environmental Protection Agency in February 2000 — sharing responsibility for the project with Rayonier and the Lower Elwha Kallam tribe.

It also means that Ecology will expand its scope beyond cleaning up the 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.

In addition to a comprehensive sampling of contaminants in Port Angeles Harbor, the revitalized project will include sampling of the uplands area of the site and “off-property” sites in Port Angeles.

No new timeline for the project — or arrival date for the cleanup workers — can be produced until the site those investigations are completed.

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