More on Rayonier Breaking off negotiations

A bit more background from Darlene Schanfald, who has led the opposition to the Harbor Works project. I’ve edited slightly.

“For some years, the City of Port Angeles and some of the business
community looked for ways to reduce Rayonier, Inc.’s cleanup costs
for its hazardous waste pulp mill on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This site is on EPA’s CERCLA list, while cleanup oversight is under
the WA State Department of Ecology’s MTCA Toxics Cleanup Program.


In 2007, Ecology asked the City to partner with it in determining
site reuse once the former mill area was cleaned.  Ecology awarded
$70,000 to the City for a public visioning process.  Following, the
City and the Port secretly developed another plan.  They would create
a Public Development Authority  (PDA) which would both help decide
the mill site’s reuse, as well as purchase the property, taking on
liability for the site.  The PDA’s liability would then reduce
Rayonier’s.  The State Legislature, under HB 1761, allows government
entities like PDAs, ports and cities to get public funds for
hazardous waste cleanups, while corporations are ineligible for these
funds. Rayonier approved the PDA plan.

On May 20, 2008 he PDA scheme for the public to assume site cleanup
liability came before the City Council with one day’s public notice
and with no public input allowed.  The Council, many admitting they
had not thoroughly read the agreement, the PDA recommended bylaws,
unanimously approved the PDA.  Since, the Port, the City and Ecology
have given the PDA $1.5 million to operate and do "due diligence."
All public funds.

The PDA, called HarborWorks, has been negotiating with Rayonier for
many months for the site.  Roughly, this was HarborWorks’ offer to
Rayonier.  HarborWorks would purchase parts of the site — the area’s
the City and the Port wanted. Rayonier would determine probable
cleanup costs of those acres, subtract from that the value of the
land in its polluted state, and give HarborWorks the remaining sum
towards the cleanup.  HarborWorks would use this money as matching
dollars needed to get state funding and relieve Rayonier of liability
for those areas.  Rayonier did not like that deal and cut off
negotiations with HarborWorks.

Without knowing about the failed negotiations, citizens were on the
street gathering petition signatures to stop any more public funds
for HarborWorks.  Within days, they collected 450 signatures and now
are well beyond that as they continue collecting signatures.  (See
Petition). On July 26, the Peninsula Daily News ran an online poll
asking if people supported or opposed HarborWorks existence.   Almost
700 people responded, nearly 77% opposed.  Yet, on August 5, in an
attempted closed door meeting with Ecology, Harborworks, the City and
the Port will try to convince Ecology to give the PDA promise of
funding that would pay for 75-91% of the cleanup, all the time
telling the public, no public funds would be used for cleanup.

ARTICLE:  Supporters, opponents respond to Rayonier letter nixing
mill site sale

Things you can do, if you are opposed to this.

Darlene suggests to write Director of Ecology, Ted Sturdevant:
”I oppose public funding for HarborWorks to buy or clean up the Port
Angeles Rayonier property.
Hold Rayonier accountable to pay for the full cleanup costs of its pollution.
The HarborWorks Public Development Authority was created without
public input, yet publicly funded with $1.5 Million.   It was created
in secret between Port Angeles City and Port and Rayonier.
RAYONIER INC. has a cleanup agreement in place with the State holding
Rayonier FULLY responsible for paying to clean up the pollution its
mill left behind.  This agreement should not be interfered with.”