Clean Up Efforts: Port Gamble S’Klallam and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes
Rory O’Rourke presented on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s effort to clean up Port Gamble Bay.
The tribe’s goal is to clean up the bay that has been polluted by the old timber mill, including the creosote and woodwaste that has entered the bay.
One of the issues with Ecology is that they changed what areas were considered contaminated. Also, metals have been found in the bay. Historically used copper and other preservatives at the mill. They’ve been sampled in the bay but not found the mill as the source.
O’Rourke discussed the woodwaste and the chemicals associated with it and how it’s affecting the bay. Carcinogenic PAHs are of the reason why there is a clean up in the bay.
Sampling includes looking 30-40 chemicals but results are consistently showing creosote and coal tar that are showing up in samples. Dixoins/Furans are another issue of concern.
Clean up areas are being expanded due to sampling done by the tribe.
Human health issues include a cancer risk. According to EPA, there is an unacceptable health risk. But a lot of the clean up has been about the cost and feasability, but not about human health risk.
Found higher concentrations of cPAHs where tribe tends to harvest.
Proposed SMAs divided up into Sediment Management Areas – divided based by level of contaiminates in the bay and how they’ll be cleaned up.
Demands the tribe has for clean up include providing best options for removing most of the contaminated sediments; address human health issues, and fully restoring Port Gamble Bay.
Matt Beirne, Enviro Quality Coordinator, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe:
The tribe has been involved in the clean up of the Port Angeles PA Harbor for 14 years. Ecology has ID’d historic and current sources of pollutants of the harbor, including saw mills, plywood, paper mills, boat building, storage warehouses.
A large source of contaminants came from the ITT Rayonier Pulp Mill. EPA inspected the property and found the site was elegible for Superfund site listing but deferred to Ecology. Project fell under the Model Toxins Control Act.
Tribe became involved because of trust resources (fish and shellfish) and the tribe’s ancestral Y-innis village site and associated cultural resources.
The agreement between EPA, Ecology and the tribe includes a condition that no clean up can happen unless OK from the tribe.
Current status of clean up: major chemicals that are of concern include dioxins, PCBs and PAHs.
Remedial investigation for the study area is largely complete, essentially involving sampling soils, sediment and fish and shellfish tissue.
The next step is feasibility and identifying clean up options. They may range from active clean up with dredging to capping to allowing it to naturally erode.
Sediment sampling of the harbor from 1996-2008 has included nearly a dozen studies. A big area of concern is the historic outfall area from the old Rayonier plant.
Tribal observations and concerns from the past 14 years:
– The responsible parties are allowed to direct the investigations; site to site inconsistencies, and human health risks.
– We have a good relationship with Ecology but our concerns lie with the upper management, as they impact human health and tribal treaty rights.
– Clean ups in your U &A involve the tribes and they need to be involved. The tribe shut down the crab harvest for the tribe because of health risk and the state soon followed.
– Woodwaste – a significant concern in PA. There are vast areas that are dead zones. It concerns the tribe that we’re spending time and money to restore Ediz Hook and yet there’s a disconnect. We’ve got an upland area that is being restored but in the lower tidal area full of woodwaste – there is a disconnect. Ecology is loathed to discuss it. We feel woodwaste supresses growth and prevents life from existing in those areas and contributes to low dissolved oxygen.
– Interim Clean up Actions – have been proposed over the years but also opporotunities lost.
– Disturbing trends: industry influence? (i.e FCR work were halted by industry influence by Boeing at the governor level).