Plan for Port Gamble Bay Cleanup Moves Ahead (USA)

Plan for Port Gamble Bay Cleanup Moves Ahead

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Pope Resources have agreed on a path that will lead to a major cleanup in and around Port Gamble Bay.

Port Gamble Bay is one of seven priority bays identified for cleanup under the Puget Sound Initiative. Historical sawmill, wood chipping and log rafting and storage activities contaminated uplands, groundwater and in-water sediments with chemicals, diesel fuel, wood debris, and other substances.

Ecology Director Maia Bellon said: “Thanks to the hard work of Ecology staff, Pope Resources, and a number of people and organizations, this agreement represents a major milestone in the cleanup of Port Gamble Bay.

“This project will benefit the environment by restoring and protecting the bay’s health; will benefit the economy by allowing for the restoration of shellfish harvesting; and will benefit the quality of life for Washington citizens and visitors who enjoy the bay and its surrounding environment.”

“I want to thank everyone involved in this for working long and hard to reach a conclusion to these negotiations that will allow for the final phase of Port Gamble’s cleanup to commence,” said David Nunes, Pope Resources’ President and CEO. “I particularly want to thank Maia Bellon from the Department of Ecology, who in her first weeks in office brought a focused effort on reaching an equitable resolution to this complex cleanup project.”

Pope Resources and Ecology will sign a consent decree, which is a legally binding agreement that will lay out how the cleanup of contaminated, in-water sediments will be designed and carried out. Pope Resources estimates the cost of cleaning up Port Gamble Bay to be roughly $17 million. As part of the in-water cleanup, Pope Resources has agreed to remove the company’s two southern docks by the fall of 2015. Other cleanup details include:

– About 2,000 pilings as well as existing over-water structures will be removed.

– A total of about 80,000 cubic yards of wood waste and contaminated sediments will be removed, including the amount removed during previous cleanup actions.

– About 130 acres of bay bottom and shoreline will undergo active remediation when work is completed.

As part of the agreement with Pope Resources, Ecology will:

– Dedicate $2 million for the removal of Pope Resources’ wastewater outfall and construction of a new large onsite septic system for Pope Resources of the same capacity as the current wastewater system. Removing the outfall will prevent the continued discharge of wastewater into the bay. It also will provide for the improvement and future protection of potentially rich shellfish beds.

– Agree to forgo $2.4 million in past cleanup costs incurred by Ecology for cleanup work in Port Gamble Bay.

– Contribute about $2 million toward Kitsap County’s purchase and stewardship of the Western Shoreline Block from Pope Resources. The protected land will include roughly 470 acres of uplands, which will be owned and managed by Kitsap County, and 83 acres of tidelands, which will be owned and managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Pope Resources and Ecology have agreed to end negotiations on settling liability for natural resource damages at the site. Assessing damages and settling the company’s liability will now follow a different process that will include federal and tribal trustees. The timeframe for that process has not been determined yet.

[mappress]

Press Release, March 25, 2013

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