Rayonier Mill cleanup

We are working toward a safer, cleaner waterfront and harbor in Port Angeles with the Rayonier Mill cleanup. It is a complex project with a long history, and one of several cleanup projects near Port Angeles Harbor.

Techniques for making wood pulp, which were standard at the time, polluted the area on and near the former mill. Rayonier A.M. Properties LLC (Rayonier) is working under our oversight to characterize and clean up that contamination.

Along with Rayonier, we work with tribal representatives and many stakeholders to move cleanup forward in a way that considers the larger Port Angeles community.

Site background

Rayonier Mill in operation, 1944.

Decades of industrial activity at the former Rayonier Mill led to contamination in the water and sediments of the harbor and in upland areas around the mill. For many years, we've worked with Rayonier to learn what contamination came from where, how much there is, and how to clean it up.

This cleanup is a long, complex undertaking. We are committed to doing thorough work that upholds Washington’s laws and high standards. Explore the related links section below to learn more about what we’ve done, what we plan, and how the public can be involved.

Rayonier Mill cleanup upland and marine study areas.

What's new

The full extent of contamination across the site is unknown, so the focus of recent investigations has been the study area, which is made up of two sections: the upland portion of the former mill property and the marine area next to the former mill.

Three technical reports have been prepared and were reviewed during a public comment period in 2019. The first and second reports describe the contamination in the upland and marine areas of the Rayonier Mill study area. The third report describes and compares options for cleanup of soil and groundwater in the upland area and for marine sediments.

Our response to the comments we received during the comment period is contained in the Responsiveness Summary

Our work with tribes & stakeholders

Because this cleanup project has a big impact on Port Angeles and the larger community, we involve many stakeholders and tribal representatives to make our work successful. These groups, and the public, are invited to share their comments on milestone cleanup plans and documents. In 1999, we formally agreed with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe that we would not move forward with major cleanup decisions without the Tribe’s concurrence.

Other groups we work with on the Rayonier Mill cleanup include:

Public Participation Grants may be available for non-profit organizations interested in monitoring the cleanup and helping to prevent pollution. Olympic Environmental Council has been a grantee.

When will cleanup be finished?

If you have followed the activity of this cleanup project, you have likely noticed changes to the dates of cleanup goals at Rayonier Mill. Dates associated with cleanup goals are estimates. We follow a process to maintain accountability and motivate progress that allows for updates and extensions to the timeline.

For example, as the overseeing authority, it is important for us to maintain the ability to request major revisions to complex reports when they don’t meet our standards. We have also extended the timeline to adjust to major changes in the Sediment Management Standards, which significantly impacted our approach to cleanup in Port Angeles Harbor.