Port Townsend Paper appeals denial of landfill permit
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
The Port Townsend Paper Corp. maintains that nothing has changed in the way it generates its waste.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Paper Corp. has appealed the Jefferson County Public Health Department's denial of the company's inert landfill permit renewal.

The mill requested an inert permit against the advice of Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, and the state Department of Ecology to instead seek the more environmentally stringent limited-purpose landfill — or LPL — designation.

The county denied the permit extension Oct. 17. The paper company appealed the denial Monday.

The county now must conduct a hearing that will take place between five and 30 days from the date of the appeal.

That hearing has yet to be scheduled, said Jefferson County Environmental Officer Pinky Feria Mingo.

“The health officer, with the full support of the Department of Ecology, granted inert permits for the past eight years,” said Port Townsend Paper President Roger Loney in a statement.

“We seek to continue this status because the wastes we generate have not changed, the landfill hasn't changed, and the regulations haven't changed,” Loney said.

“For these reasons, PTPC has filed for an appeal of the health officer's decision.”

The appeal to the county, written by attorney Leslie Nellermoe, said the waste generated by the mill should continue its classification as inert because “Jefferson County and the Department of Ecology have been disingenuous at best or acted arbitrarily or capriciously at worst during the negotiations over this permit.

“During the two years Port Townsend Paper Corporation has worked to resolve these issues, [both agencies] stated that the landfill would be regulated as an inert waste facility with certain additional requirements and this approach would address your express concerns,” the appeal said.

“Now, after expending a significant amount of time, energy and money, your course unexpectedly changed without notice.”

The additional measures proposed by the paper company were to reinitiate groundwater testing and to provide financial assurances to cover the cost of closure if it were unable to cover costs.

Neither of the measures is required for inert landfill permits.

Locke said last week that the permit denial was because of concerns about the changing nature of the waste generated by the mill during operation of an expanded biomass cogeneration plant.

The $55 million, 24-megawatt biomass-plant expansion project is planned to be operative next year.

Additionally, the original granting of an inert permit was not appropriate, a situation the county is now attempting to correct, Locke said.

“With the benefit of hindsight, the granting of the permit was an error,” Locke said.

“We know a lot more about this waste now than when we first granted the [2004] permit, and we are now revisiting the issue.”

Loney disagreed with this assertion.

“We are proceeding with an appeal of the county health officer's ruling because the reclassification strictly to limited use is a significant change to the operation of the landfill,” he wrote.

“We proposed additional safeguards to address concerns with ground water monitoring and financial assurance in our most recent application but the health officer rejected this solution.”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 30. 2012 6:14PM
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