Department of Ecology News Release - December 20, 2012

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Ecology releases Port Angeles Harbor pollution study reports

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has issued final versions of two reports and a response to recent public comments on results of a large-scale sediment sampling study in Port Angeles Harbor.  Ecology began the study in 2008 as part of the state’s Puget Sound Initiative to restore the Sound’s health by 2020.

Ecology finalized the reports after a 90-day public comment period on draft versions earlier this year.

The sediment study provides information on the location, concentration and likely sources of chemical contamination and wood debris on the harbor bottom. Port Angeles has a long industrial history that contributed to the harbor’s pollution.

Three documents are now available:

Data from these reports will be used for the ongoing Rayonier Mill cleanup.  The reports will be used in a draft marine data summary report for that site.         

The highest contamination is in the inner harbor and near the former Rayonier pulp mill, in the eastern part of the harbor.

Chemical contaminants detected in the study include dioxins and poly-chlorinated biphenyls, commonly called PCBs, both of which can persist in the environment for decades. Dioxins and PCBs can enter the food chain, starting with organisms that live in the sediments.  The chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which 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 of which are harmful to plants and animals. 

Based on the findings, Ecology has established a new cleanup site in the inner harbor, called Western Port Angeles Harbor. The agency has named six potentially liable parties (PLPs) for this site. Ecology is working with some of the PLPs to develop an agreed order, which is a legal agreement to investigate the extent of contamination and to evaluate cleanup options. The six PLPs are Georgia-Pacific LLC, Nippon Paper Industries USA Co. Ltd., Merrill & Ring, the Port of Port Angeles, the City of Port Angeles, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Copies of the final reports and responsiveness summary are available at the following locations:

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Media contacts:

For more information:

Port Angeles Harbor study (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/portAngelesHarborSed/paSed_hp.htm)

FAQ Blog (http://ecologywa.blogspot.com/2012/03/around-sound-port-angeles-harbor-open.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)