Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Around the Sound: Deciphering the Rayonier cleanup agreements

by Hannah Aoyagi, Public Involvement Coordinator

One more follow-up to our July blog “Questions from Olympic Environmental Council’s forum on Rayonier”...

Several different agreements govern the Rayonier Mill cleanup, while others are now outdated. I wanted to highlight the key agreements and provide some historical context for our current work:

1999 Concurrence agreement with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
The Rayonier site holds great significance to the Lower Elwha in terms of cultural resources and natural resources. Ecology and the tribe have agreed to work together on each step of the cleanup process—the tribe provides input on cleanup agreements, reports, and decisions. The tribe’s involvement has greatly benefitted the cleanup, providing a unique perspective and an additional level of review on important decisions.

2000 Deferral Agreement with EPA
After Rayonier closed its Port Angeles mill in 1997, a group of individuals and organizations petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the site. EPA investigation found that the site was eligible for the Superfund program. However, state and local officials asked for state oversight of the cleanup and in 2000, EPA deferred listing the site on the Superfund list, leaving Ecology in charge.

Past Cleanup Orders
Since 1992, Rayonier has done several partial cleanups on the mill property. In 2002, Ecology and Rayonier entered into an Agreed Order for investigating the marine portion of the site. A 2004 Agreed Order required an investigation and feasibility study for the upland portion of the site. Ecology never approved the marine and upland investigations, disagreeing with Rayonier about whether the full site had been defined. When the Toxics Cleanup Program took over in late 2007, we took a different approach…

Current Cleanup Agreement
Ecology and Rayonier’s 2010 Agreed Order is the only cleanup agreement now in effect. It replaces the 2002 and 2004 Agreed Orders and plots a new path forward. Under the agreement, Rayonier will develop a cleanup plan for the Study Area, which includes the Rayonier Mill property and nearby marine area.

Future Agreements
Because the current cleanup agreement only requires Rayonier to develop a cleanup plan, Ecology will need a new agreement to implement actual cleanup. If Ecology determines that Rayonier is responsible for additional contamination, either beyond the upland property boundary or further out in Port Angeles Harbor, those cleanups would also require new legal agreements.

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