Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Around the Sound: Questions from Olympic Environmental Council’s forum on Rayonier

By Rebecca Lawson

On June 10th, the Olympic Environmental Council (OEC) held a forum in Port Angeles on the Rayonier cleanup and how certain structures, such as the dock pictured here, might impact cleanup and reuse of the property. Ecology provides the group with a Public Participation Grant to support this type of educational event. I was invited to sit on a panel, which included John Cambalik of the Puget Sound Partnership, Brady Scott of the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Robbie and Jim Mantooth of Ennis Arbor Farm, and Darlene Schanfald of OEC.

The cleanup perspective

I was there to give some background on the cleanup process and help respond to audience questions. In terms of meeting state cleanup law, we have some strict requirements, but also some flexibility. The ultimate goal is protection of human health and the environment. If a structure prevents cleanup, in some cases it might have to be removed. For example, if sediment cleanup is needed under that dock, we would look at whether or not it can be done with the structure in place. Those decisions will be made further down the road, when Rayonier evaluates cleanup alternatives.

Ecology does have the flexibility to work with Rayonier and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe if they agree to go beyond what cleanup law requires. Projects like Ennis Creek restoration could be integrated into the cleanup process, and Ecology supports that type of initiative. There are possible incentives for Rayonier, the tribe, and Ecology to work together on this project that would have many ecological and community benefits.

I heard a number of participants say that they strongly support Ennis Creek restoration, but also that they understand it needs to be sequenced with cleanup and will take time. We will share more about this effort as it develops.

The five-million gallon tank on the Rayonier property (also pictured here) offers another way to improve the local environment. The City of Port Angeles proposes using the tank to store sewer overflow during storm events. This would help reduce the overall amount of pollution flowing into Port Angeles Harbor, and both the Toxics Cleanup Program and Water Quality Program are working on that issue.

Audience questions

I really appreciate the chance to hear community questions and concerns. These types of events help Ecology understand what issues are important and what we need to communicate better. I wanted to highlight a couple of complex issues our audience raised, and address them in future blogs:

  • How does future land use affect what cleanup levels are chosen?

  • What are all of the different agreements that govern the Rayonier cleanup and who is involved?
If you are interested in learning more about the Rayonier cleanup, please check back or contact Hannah Aoyagi at to join our mailing list.

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