Proposed Settlement and Restoration Plan for Western Port Angeles Harbor Open for Public Comment
March 26, 2021
The U.S Department of Justice lodged two consent decrees proposing a $9.3 million settlement with companies, a local municipality, and a port district responsible for hazardous waste pollution in Western Port Angeles Harbor in Washington.
Concurrently, NOAA and other members of the Port Angeles Harbor Trustee Council, all listed below, released a draft damage assessment and restoration plan (PDF, 63 pages). The plan includes an assessment of the injuries to the environment from the pollution. It also proposes an ecosystem-based habitat restoration program that would restore the pollution-impacted resources with $8.5 million of funds from the settlement.
The consent decrees and restoration plan are both out for public comment for 30 days, through April 26, 2021. Information on how to submit comments, and the trustees’ April 7 virtual public meeting to learn more about the restoration plan are below.
The Consent Decrees provide a total settlement value of $9.3 million. One Consent Decree would resolve the liability of the Port of Port Angeles, Nippon Paper Industries USA Co., Ltd., Merrill & Ring Inc., Georgia-Pacific LLC, and Owens Corning. The other Consent Decree would resolve the liability of The City of Port Angeles for $800,000. Learn more on how to comment on these two proposed Consent Decrees on the Department of Justice website.
Draft Restoration Plan
In the draft damage assessment and restoration plan NOAA and co-trustees are proposing the establishment of a regional restoration program to select and implement future restoration projects. The program will provide funding for ecosystem-based restoration actions to be implemented by local restoration partners, which may include the trustees. The Trustee Council will cultivate, solicit, and evaluate opportunities for restoration, and provide funding for selected projects.
The draft plan also outlines potential locations for habitat restoration projects in four areas around Port Angeles Harbor. Some project activities may occur outside of the Harbor if they are aimed at restoring species that use it, or if those activities will improve the Harbor ecosystem.
The plan identifies restoration strategies the trustees will focus on when evaluating future projects. Those include:
Restoration to recover and expand on areas of good quality habitat that remain in the Harbor.
Restoration of regionally rare barrier beach, lagoon, and creek mouth habitats.
Restoration of the natural erosion and transport of beach sediments to sustain beaches and shorelines.
Constructing large areas of complex habitat connected by shallow water that supports the migration of juvenile salmon.
Increasing forage fish and juvenile salmonid populations.
Comment on the Draft Restoration Plan
Public comments will be accepted for 30 days through April 26. We encourage you to review and comment on the draft plan by submitting comments through the Washington Department of Ecology’s online portal, or by email or mail. Comments through the online portal are preferred.
Online portal: http://tcp.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=Rm5ge
Email to: Connie.Groven@ecy.wa.gov
Learn More at a Virtual Public Meeting
The trustees are hosting a virtual public meeting on April 7, 2021. We will present information on the draft plan and answer questions.
Date and Time: April 7, 2021
6:15 - 6:30 p.m. PT: Staff will be available for technical assistance with the virtual meeting platform, GotoWebinar.
6:30 p.m. PT: Presentation will begin. Join at this time if you don’t need technical assistance.
Register for the meeting at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8316440284408507404
After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting. A GoToWebinar system check is recommended before attending
History of the Site
Over the past century, many industries have used Port Angeles Harbor, including sawmills and plywood manufacturing, pulp and paper production, marine shipping/transportation, boat building and refurbishing, and other marine sectors. Since the early 1900s, pulp and paper mills commonly discharged treated and untreated mill process effluents into the Harbor. These discharges have resulted in harbor sediments contaminated by heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs, and petrochemicals.
Port Angeles Harbor provides critical habitat for Pacific salmon and steelhead—including Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, bull trout, and Hood Canal summer chum salmon—all listed under the Endangered Species Act, as well as a diversity of shellfish, fish, birds, and mammals. Sampled fish and shellfish specimens from the Harbor have been found to have elevated concentrations of contaminants in their tissues.
The Port Angeles Harbor Trustee Council includes:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Washington Department of Ecology
- Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
- Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
- Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe