USA: Ecology Seeks Comments on Western Port Angeles Cleanup Plan

Ecology Seeks Comments on Western Port Angeles Cleanup Plan

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking comments through April 18 on a proposed agreed order for cleaning up the Western Port Angeles Harbor site.

Toxics Cleanup Program regional section manager Rebecca Lawson said: “Entering into this agreed order will be a critical step toward cleaning up Port Angeles Harbor, and supports the broader goal of restoring health to Puget Sound. We are on a fast-track with this site so that we can achieve clean up of both Western Port Angeles Harbor and the separate Rayonier Mill site on parallel paths.

Port Angeles Harbor has a long history as a busy industrial and shipping hub. In 2008, Ecology launched a sediment investigation of Port Angeles Harbor through the Puget Sound Initiative.

The investigation found that contaminants in the western portion of the harbor come from different sources than contaminants in the Rayonier Mill study area near the mouth of the harbor. Contaminants in the Western Harbor site include dioxins and furans, poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, ammonia and sulfides from decomposing wood debris, and semi-volatile organics, such as phenols and phthalates.

These types of pollutants can pose a threat to human health and the environment, including fisheries and shellfish beds.

Ecology is seeking comment on three documents through April 18:

– An agreed order that requires the potentially liable parties (PLPs) to do a remedial investigation, which describes the nature and extent of contamination, a feasibility study which evaluates cleanup options and a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) report.

– A RI/FS work plan which describes how the PLPs will investigate the site and evaluate cleanup options.

– A public participation plan which describes tools Ecology will use to inform the public about, and gather input on the cleanup.

The proposed agreed order would require PLPs to fill gaps in what is known about harbor contamination and how to clean it up, such as how contaminants and wood debris are affecting animals and people who eat marine plants and animals from the harbor. The PLPs signing the agreed order are Georgia-Pacific, Nippon Paper Industries USA, Merrill & Ring, the Port of Port Angeles and the City of Port Angeles.

Executive Director of the Port of Port Angeles Jeff Robb said: “The Port appreciates Ecology’s commitment to move forward on a fast track with this process. The professionalism of the PLPs and Ecology is a good example of public private partnership.”

Port Angeles City Manager Dan McKeen said: “The City of Port Angeles joined the other PLPs because all recognize the need to do the right thing, but all also agree it should be done in a responsible, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Cleaning up the harbor is the right thing to do for the environment and citizens.”

Once the public comment period ends, Ecology and the PLPs will finalize the agreed order and work plan, incorporating changes as needed based on public comments. The PLPs will then submit a sampling and analysis plan for the investigation, which Ecology will review. The PLPs plan to do sampling in summer 2013, pending Ecology’s approval of the plan.

[mappress]

Press Release, March 20, 2013

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