Friday, July 1, 2016

Around the Sound: Port Gamble Bay cleanup restarting

Cleanup, including pulling out old pilings, is restarting at Port Gamble Bay in Kitsap County.

The second round of Port Gamble Bay cleanup is gearing up.

Contractors are already setting up and starting some preliminary work, like stockpiling capping materials and pulling out pilings, as they prepare for the second year of cleanup work. This phase of cleanup will run through January 2017. It  follows the work that occurred from fall 2015 through January 2016.

The cleanup is focusing on chemical contamination and wood waste left by more than a century of industrial activities. From 1853 to 1995, the Pope & Talbot sawmill operated on the shores of the bay. After the mill closed, the company's resources were acquired by current site owner Pope Resources. The site was used for handling, sorting and storing logs and materials.

Port Gamble Bay is identified as one of several priority areas under the Puget Sound Initiative, which is an effort to improve and restore the Sound's health and habitat.

Pope Resources is responsible for the cleanup, under the oversight of Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program.

What's happening

The summer months of the construction season will be focused on pile pulling, demolishing old structures and using about 33,000 cubic yards of clean material to cap a 61‐acre area in the central bay south of the former mill site. Bank excavation and debris removal are also planned.

Piling and dock removal at the former log transfer facility is scheduled to start July 18. A small area within the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park -- the park access point  and parking adjacent to the shoreline (south and east of the trail access parking) -- will close for about three weeks. A sign is posted. The upland trails will remain open.

In the fall and winter months, dredging and follow‐up capping will move into high gear. Work will move from south of the mill site to north of the mill site as the season progresses.

Watch for heavy truck traffic if you're visiting or passing through Port Gamble. And the mill site will be closed to the public because of construction hazards.

What's been done

Within the first year, cleanup crews:
  • Removed 3,312 pilings.
  • Excavated 19,098 cubic yards of intertidal sediments.
  • Dredged 22,360 cubic yards.
  • Removed and recycled 3,063 tons of steel, concrete and other debris.
  • Delivered 69,051 tons of clean capping and habitat materials.

Once finished, cleanup will have removed about 6,000 creosote pilings and overwater structures, excavated roughly 70,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and wood waste, and sand capped other wood waste areas.

Stay informed

Weekly construction updates and more information can be found online.

By Seth Preston, Toxics Cleanup Program communications manager

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