USA: Ecology Extends Comment Period for Port Angeles Harbor Study

The Washington Department of Ecology extended the public comment period on two draft reports detailing the results of a large-scale sediment sampling effort in Port Angeles Harbor.

The comment period, which began Feb. 23, was extended to a 90-day comment period from a 30-day comment period and will now end on May 22, 2012.

Rebecca Lawson, Ecology’s regional manager for the Toxics Cleanup Program, said: “We had numerous requests to extend the comment period for these large and complex reports. We believe allotting more time will allow people to gain a better understanding of their contents.”

Community members can learn more about the draft reports and their findings during an open house and presentation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 13, 2012, at the Olympic Medical Center’s Linkletter Hall, 939 Caroline Street, Port Angeles.

The purpose of the sediment study that the reports detail is to understand the distribution of chemical contamination and wood debris in the harbor and identify likely sources of this contamination. Port Angeles has a long industrial history that contributed to the harbor’s pollution. Ecology began this study in 2008 as part of the Puget Sound Initiative, a joint effort of Gov. Gregoire and the Legislature to restore the Sound’s health by 2020.

Some of the major chemical contaminants found include dioxins and poly-chlorinated biphenyls, commonly called PCBs, both of which can persist in the environment for decades. Dioxins and PCBs are endocrine disruptors, may cause reproductive and development effects, and are potential carcinogens. Other contaminants include toxic metals as well as ammonia and sulfides from decomposing wood debris, all which are harmful to plants and animals.

The largest contamination “hotspots” are in the inner harbor and near the former Rayonier pulp mill, in the eastern part of the harbor.

The results of the study will help Ecology determine entities responsible for the contamination.

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Dredging Today Staff, March 7, 2012

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