Next phase of Port Gamble Bay cleanup is underway

Long a vibrant place for recreation, food harvesting, and other culturally important activities, beautiful Port Gamble Bay, located on Hood Canal, is one of seven Puget Sound Initiative priority bays. The bay, home to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, is important to several other area tribes and is well-known for its shellfish, crab, and other vital fisheries.

Aerial of Port Gamble Area, large body of water with land on either sides of a channel
Former sawmill property, the focus of upland phase of cleanup. Photo courtesy of Pope Resources.
For 142 years starting in 1853, Pope and Talbot operated a sawmill at the site and established the longest-running mill town in the United States. Historical sawmill operations in and around Port Gamble Bay resulted over time in the release of pollutants from wood product manufacturing and treatment. Earlier this year, Ecology and Pope Resources/Olympic Property Group completed a 10-year process to clean up the in-water portion of the Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site.
 
Now, the next phase of cleanup — to address contamination in upland areas — is underway.

Public comment invited on uplands cleanup through November 20

You’re invited to comment on plans for cleanup of the uplands portion of the Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site, where dioxins and furans have been detected. Dioxins and furans are a family of chemical byproducts generated from a variety of industrial activities, including wood burning and treatment. Once released to the environment and consumed, they build up in fatty tissues and can be harmful to fish, wildlife, and humans when ingested in sufficiently high amounts.
 
We are early in this cleanup process and have released the following draft documents for public review and comment through November 20:
 
  • Draft Agreed Order: This is a formal legal agreement between Ecology and Pope Resources/Olympic Property Group to provide remedial action at the uplands portion of the site.
  • Supplemental Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study Work Plan: This is an attachment to the draft Agreed Order that presents a summary of previous remedial investigations, cleanup evaluations, and activities completed at the uplands portion of the site. It also provides a description of additional methods to address residual contamination from dioxins and furans.
  • Draft Public Participation Plan: Also an attachment to the draft Agreed Order, the draft Public Participation describes how the public can provide input on site cleanup.
 
Documents, including a factsheet focused on this comment period, are available for review at local libraries (Poulsbo and Little Boston), at Ecology headquarters, and on our site cleanup webpage.

How and where to comment

We invite your comments online, via email, and via postal mail by November 20:
Once the public comment period ends on November 20, we will review and consider all written comments received. The cleanup documents may be modified based on your comments, and there will be additional comment periods as cleanup progresses. For more information on the cleanup process and public input opportunities, please read the draft Public Participation Plan, available on our webpage.

Port Gamble cleanup is making a difference

Port Gamble’s scenic location and many activities make it a perennial favorite for visitors and residents alike. Continued cleanup will make a difference for the people, fish, and wildlife who live, work, and play in and near the bay.
 
In addition to the uplands cleanup, Ecology, Pope Resources, and tribal and community partners have worked together to decommission the Port Gamble wastewater plant, remove an existing wastewater outfall pipe from Hood Canal that will reopen 90 acres of geoduck tracts, and restore and protect the bay.
 
These cleanup efforts will:
 
  • Create a healthier and safer environment especially for fish and shellfish, and those harvesting and eating them
  • Enhance recreation by making it safer and more enjoyable for kayaking, boating, hiking, biking, and bird watching
  • Provide jobs to bay residents and the broader community
  • Support future restoration and conservation efforts in and around the bay
 
For more information on Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site cleanup, see this three-part blog series and the cleanup webpage.