Port Angeles Harbor Natural Resource Damage Assessment Site Overview

The Port Angeles Natural Resource Trustees (trustees) are assessing injuries related to contamination within Port Angeles Harbor.

Site Background

Port Angeles Harbor has a long history as an important cultural area for Klallam Indians. This continues today through the activities and interests of the three federally recognized Klallam Tribes: Lower Elwha, Jamestown, and Port Gamble.  

Later, Port Angeles Harbor became a busy industrial and shipping hub. Beginning in the 1920s, pulp and paper mills were built along the harbor shoreline. Different parties operated these mills. You can read about the many different mills and their owners in the Port Angeles Harbor Preassessment Screen.

Over time, many different activities contaminated the harbor. Industrial and municipal processes released hazardous substances into the harbor through:

  • Permitted and non-permitted discharges.
  • Air emissions.
  • Spills during cargo transfer and refueling
  • Stormwater runoff through contaminated soils at upland facilities.
  • Discharge of contaminated groundwater.

Accumulation of wood debris also appears to be affecting the habitat of animals on the harbor floor.

Recent sampling has shown that the harbor is contaminated with many toxic substances. There is evidence that this harms natural resources and their supporting habitats. This includes subtidal, shoreline, estuary, and upland areas of the harbor.

Endangered species that visit and live in the Harbor area include Chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and marbled murrelet.  Other species that transit through the area include humpback whale, resident killer whale, Steller sea lion, and Pacific eulachon.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

Under federal and state law, the parties that discharged hazardous substances resulting in damages to natural resources are responsible for restoring, replacing, or acquiring the equivalent of the injured resources. This is being done through the NRDA process.

Cleanup Sites in Port Angeles Harbor

The NRDA process is distinct from the Port Angeles Harbor cleanup process.  The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is overseeing cleanup work in the harbor.   

Ecology’s Port Angeles Harbor sediments studies found two major sources of contamination in the harbor—in the inner (western) harbor and near the former Rayonier Mill. 


This page last updated December 13, 2016


Port Angeles,
Clallam County

Connie Groven,
(360) 407-6254