Washington State Department of Ecology - March 22, 2013

13-087

Agreement paves way for major Port Gamble Bay cleanup

OLYMPIA – 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:

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

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.

###

Media Contacts:

Seth Preston, Ecology media relations, 360-584-5744 (cell); seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Port Gamble (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/psi/portGamble/psi_portGamble.html)

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