Jefferson County issues formal denial of Port Townsend Paper permit

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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Corporation pays fine
OLYMPIA — Port Townsend Paper Corp. has paid a $4,000 fine issued last fall by the state Department of Ecology, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Linda Kent said she did not know if a $1,000 fine levied at the same time against a fishing boat owner in Neah Bay had been paid.
Ecology announced in November that it had issued the penalties during the third quarter of 2012.
Port Townsend Paper was fined $4,000 for violating an air operating permit for recovery furnace particulate levels March 26 and for violating smoke density limits from the package boiler March 12 and 14, Ecology said.
Fishing boat spill
Edith Johnston was fined $1,500 for a spill after the fishing boat Karanna went aground at Chibahdehl Rocks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Neah Bay on May 9.
The vessel broke up in rough water, spilling fewer than 50 gallons of diesel fuel and one 5-gallon bucket of lube oil, Ecology said.
Ecology sets fines based on reporting from agencies.
“We strive to be in compliance with all of our emissions limits at all times and historically have a very good track record of compliance,” wrote Kevin Scott, the Port Townsend mill's environmental officer, in an email.
“In cases like this, where we have an upset that causes a violation, we immediately make corrections to the system or equipment and report the upsets to the Department of Ecology, as required in our permits,” Scott said, adding that over the past five years, the firm had cut instances of upset conditions by half and had improved each year.
Only recipients of fines
Port Townsend Paper and the fishing boat were the only recipients of fines that Ecology listed on the North Olympic Peninsula for the third quarter.
Ecology issued a total statewide of $491,628 in penalties of $1,000 or more in the third quarter, from July through September.
The agency issues individual news releases for penalties of $10,000 or greater. It announces smaller penalties each quarter.
Payments do not benefit Ecology but are deposited in special accounts for environmental restoration and enhancement, research and development, permitting and regulatory programs, and education.
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Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp. no longer qualifies for an inert-waste permit for the landfill at its Port Townsend plant, according to final findings issued by the Jefferson County Public Health Department, and the company plans to appeal the decision.

“The waste stream generated by the pulp and paper mill . . . is capable of producing leachate or emissions that have the potential to negatively impact soil, groundwater, surface water or air quality and thus the PTPC waste stream cannot satisfy the criteria for inert waste,” concluded the report.

Posted on website

The report, signed by Jared Keefer, environmental health and water quality director for the department, and posted on the Health Department's website Monday, was dated Dec. 28.

The final findings underlined earlier county rulings, and Port Townsend Paper officials repeated their intention to appeal it to the state Pollution Controls Hearing Board.

“We believe we have a very strong case,” said Port Townsend Paper President Roger Loney in an email.

“We will continue to pursue a resolution of this issue with the involvement of state and county officials as we seek to operate our facility in an environmentally responsible and economically sound manner,” he wrote.

The Dec. 28 formal denial of the permit starts the 30-day clock of the appeal process to the Pollutions Control Hearing Board.

Loney said the denial was not surprising, since it is largely a restatement of the department's Oct. 17 decision.

Inert-waste permit

Port Townsend Paper — the county's largest private employer, with nearly 300 workers — requested in September an extension of its inert-waste permit, which had been in effect since 1989.

The county health department said Oct. 17 that the company should be required to attain a more stringent limited-use permit.

The mill appealed the decision Oct. 22, triggering a Nov. 27 hearing to review the decision.

Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, issued a denial of the appeal Dec. 3.

At the hearing, mill officials presented testimony that the regulations and processes have not changed, so the permit should be renewed.

The county argued that the mill's pH output and the presence of lime grit in that output exceed the accepted designation of inert.

In his denial, Locke expressed concerns about the changing nature of waste generated by the mill during operation of an expanded biomass cogeneration plant.

The $55 million, 24-megawatt biomass cogeneration expansion originally was expected to be put into operation this April, but work on the facility has been delayed until 2014 or 2015, the company said after a Dec. 10 state Court of Appeals ruling that sends a suit filed by five environmental groups to the state Supreme Court.

Suit filed

The suit — filed by PT Airwatchers, No Biomass Burn, the Olympic Environmental Council, the Olympic Forest Coalition and the World Temperate Rainforest Network — urges the requirement of an environmental impact statement prior to construction of the expanded facility that burns wood waste to create electricity.

Nippon Paper Industries USA Co. in Port Angeles also is expanding its biomass cogeneration facility to generate 20 megawatts in a $71 million project that's slated for completion this year.

It also has been opposed by environmental groups who say that the facilities will increase pollution, especially of ultrafine particles that can lodge in the lungs.

To see the county health department's final report on the Port Townsend Paper mill landfill permit, visit


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: January 02. 2013 6:05PM
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