image:Sailboat on Puget Sound


Port Angeles Harbor Sediment Dioxin Source Study

4 maps showing dioxin contamination in Port Angeles HarborThere are many types of pollutants in Port Angeles Harbor that may pose a threat to human health and the environment.  These pollutants also threaten fisheries and shellfish beds, and the people that depend on them. 
Dioxins and furans are chronic toxic chemicals and potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and may cause reproductive and development effects. They are stored in fatty tissues and accumulate as they move up the marine food chain. They come from natural and man-made sources, such as forest fires, burning seawater-soaked wood, garbage burning, and industrial incinerators, chlorine bleaching, and other industrial processes.  Most of the dioxin contamination in the harbor appears to be from past industrial practices that are no longer happening.

Based on the Port Angeles Harbor sediments investigation results, Ecology studied the dioxin pollution in the harbor. The sediment dioxin source study details the types of dioxins found in the harbor, their potential sources, and where different types of dioxins are located.

Other Port Angeles Harbor Pollutants

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are also chronic toxics that accumulate in the marine food chain. They pose a risk to humans eating fish from the harbor, and to organisms living in the harbor. Banned in 1977, PCBs were once used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment. Because of their stability, however, these chemicals still persist in the environment. Their health effects are similar to those of dioxins.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of over 100 different chemicals formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, garbage, or other organic substances. They can accumulate in plants, animals, and breast milk. Animal studies have shown that PAHs can cause reproductive and immune system effects. They may also cause cancer in humans.

Wood debris: Much of the harbor bottom is covered with wood debris.  Decomposing wood often removes oxygen from the benthic (bottom) marine environment, and produces ammonia and sulfides, all of which are harmful to plants and animals.  

Photo: Orca


North Olympic Peninsula regional background study draft sampling and analysis plan now available.


Port Angeles, Clallam County

map showing site location as Clallam County, WA


Project Manager
Connie Groven

Public Involvement Coordinator
Megan MacClellan