Rayonier Mill cleanup

A long, broad pier stretches over the water. Smokestacks and industrial buildings on shore.

Rayonier mill in operation.

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

Decades of industrial activity at the former Rayonier Mill contaminated the water and sediments of the harbor and the soil around the mill. Rayonier A.M. Properties LLC is working under our oversight to study and clean up that contamination. We are also working with tribal representatives and many stakeholders to move cleanup forward in a way that considers the larger Port Angeles community.

Over 30,000 tons of contaminated material has already been removed from the site. This cleanup is a long, complex undertaking. We are committed to doing thorough work that upholds Washington’s laws and high standards.

The Rayonier cleanup study area

We define cleanup sites by the extent of contamination. Because we don’t yet know how far contamination from the mill spreads, we don’t know the formal boundaries of this cleanup site. Currently we are focused on a study area that includes:

  • Property owned or leased by Rayonier (uplands area)
  • Marine sediments next to the property (marine area)

Investigating the study area is the responsibility of Rayonier.

After completing the cleanup in the study area, we will investigate contamination beyond the study area to draw site boundaries that clearly define responsibility for cleanup.

Rayonier Mill cleanup upland and marine study areas.

Completed reports on the study area

The study area has been the focus of recent investigations. The study area 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.

We approved the following reports as final in August, 2021.

Our work with tribes

The Rayonier Mill cleanup affects the Port Angeles area and we involve tribal representatives to make our work successful. 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 tribes we work with on the Rayonier Mill cleanup include:

Our work with stakeholders

The cleanup is important to the people living in the vicinity. We involve stakeholders and invite agencies and the public to participate in the cleanup process. People are invited to share their comments on milestone cleanup plans and documents. Some of the groups we work with include:

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.