Demolition nearing end on PA's PenPly mill

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Workers are in the last stages of demolishing the former Peninsula Plywood site as they finish tearing up the salvageable, rough-cut-timber and diamond-plate flooring of the cavernous, Walmart-sized mill building at 439 Marine Drive.

The 180,000-square-foot building's walls and roof have been transformed into a pile of rubble, allowing a more unobstructed view of the Port of Port Angeles' Terminal 1 pier area — and the giant ships that dock there — from Marine Drive about two blocks away.

The building's floor, about two-thirds of which has been removed, should be torn up this week, with only one storage building left to be demolished, Port of Port Angeles Director of Engineering Chris Hartman said Friday.

The $1.6 million demolition and salvaging project by Rhine Demolition of Tacoma has included 11 buildings on the property, owned by the Port of Port Angeles, and is on schedule for completion by May 3.

Also still on schedule is the March 25 blast-down of the site's 175-foot chimney stack.

The towering structure is swathed in white, ribbed sheathing as workers laboriously chip and grind away its toxic paint, four days a week and 10 hours a day, “if not longer,” Hartman said.

“Removing of the paint has been a lot more time-consuming than they thought,” he said.

Rhine has brought in a few more workers to complete the task, he added.

After the mill building is dismantled, “then they'll really be focusing on the stack,” Hartman said.

Other workers will concentrate on sifting through and salvaging what's left of the plant, including the ripped-up flooring, which is yielding timber that Hartman called “fairly large and invaluable.”

“Once it's torn up, they will separate all the different types of material and see what's salvageable and what's not,” Hartman said.

The mill was built in 1941 and existed under various names until December 2011, when it closed in arrears by more than $2.4 million to the port, city of Port Angeles and state Department of Labor and Industries.

A webcam chronicling the demolition of the site went down Friday afternoon while the port revamped its website,, Hartman said.

“Hopefully, it will be up soon,” he said.

Tankers docking at Terminal 1, their bridges loom over the 19-acre parcel.

The 896-foot tanker Polar Endeavour was docked at Terminal 1 from Feb. 8-14.

The top of its bridge is about 145 feet from the water line depending on the draft, and with the mill building leveled, the ship “was right in town, it felt like,” Hartman said.

The port wants to develop the PenPly site — also known as the K Ply site after a former owner — for marine trades.

Pollution, mainly benzene and petroleum products, still contaminate the property.

The process of cleanup planning and removal will begin later this year, and Ecology has estimated the cleanup won't be completed until the end of 2017.

Ecology has made available a $2 million grant for the cleanup, though no estimate has been made on how much the total cost will be to deal with the pollution.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at

Last modified: February 24. 2013 6:18PM
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