Department of Ecology News Release - March 1, 2013

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Cleanup work planned for Old Cashmere Mill site

YAKIMA – The Port of Chelan County is working with the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) to prepare the old Cashmere Mill site for redevelopment.

The project will remove or reuse thousands of tons of old wood waste, investigate and remove any contamination, and grade the site for future building development. The port and Ecology are working quickly to make the 32-acre site ready for a new business.

Last year, the port received $1.5 million from Ecology to clean up the former mill site, which is being reclaimed and restored with the goal of development as an industrial park.

J.C. Baldwin, Chelan County Port Commissioner, said: “We were aware of the historical use of this property, and the port stepped in to acquire and clean up the site following several years of it sitting abandoned. The port looks forward to getting this property back on the tax rolls.”

Although the port is the current owner of the property, it has been in negotiations with a local company to purchase the site once cleanup work is done. This company is looking to expand its operations, and could add hundreds of new jobs to the community.

“We’re excited about the potential of this property. Having it sit vacant benefits no one. We’d like to have the opportunity to participate in more projects like this,” said Valerie Bound, who heads Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program at Yakima.

Ecology supports redevelopment efforts of abandoned or underused properties where there may be environmental contamination. Redevelopment efforts are often hindered by the associated uncertainty of cleanup. Properties, such as the Old Cashmere Mill site, that aren’t cleaned up represent lost opportunities for economic development and for other community improvements.

Cleanup and redevelopment can turn a perceived problem into a community asset. A restored property can stimulate a community’s economy. A city like Cashmere can restore properties to active use, increase jobs and the local tax base and improve the community’s image.

“The city is very supportive of the port’s efforts to redevelop the site following the successful completion of the Sunset Highway project,” said Cashmere Mayor Jeff Gomes.

The $1.5 million in funding for the first phase of the project comes from specific appropriation by the Legislature. The money comes from the state’s voter-approved tax on hazardous substances. Additional funding will be necessary to address all of the property identified for redevelopment.

“We appreciate that the Legislature realizes cleanup is important to the environment, health and economy of our local communities,” Bound said. “Funding for this project and others, now and in the future, gives us the ability to work with local partners like the port on projects that directly improve their communities.”

The port is reviewing bids for the project and expects to award the contract for the first phase of the project in early March with a completion of the first phase anticipated by the end of June. If additional funding becomes available, completion of the second phase of the project is expected in October. Bound said the port and Ecology are hopeful this timeframe allows bidders to make good use of the wood waste.

“It would be shame for all the wood waste to end up in the landfill,” said Bound. “Once it’s separated, we think there’s tremendous reuse potential.”

 “This project and the potential sale would not be possible without the active participation and support from the Department of Ecology,” added Baldwin.

Media Contact:

Valerie Bound, Toxics Cleanup Program, 509-454-7886; 509-901-7107 cell

Seth Preston, media relations, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 cell; seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Toxics Cleanup Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/cleanup.html)

Port of Chelan County (www.ccpd.com/)

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