Old Port Angeles dump threatens to spill into Strait
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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City Council members will consider the problem — and short- and long-term solutions that a consultant said could total up to $12 million — at their City Council meeting at 6 p.m. today at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.
“The message is very clear that something needs to be done to stop that cliff from eroding at 3 to 5 feet a year,” City Council member Dan Di Guilio said.
If the cliff were to fail, “then garbage falls into the Strait, and we don't want that to happen,” he said.
Possible solutions include removing up to 500,000 cubic yards of eroded material from a section of the former dump. Or part or all of it — covered and contained — could be piled on top another shutdown cell at the 44-acre site at the end of 18th Street in Port Angeles, Public Works and Utilities Director Glenn Cutler said.
Rock or riprap also might be piled at the base to dissipate wave energy to slow erosion.
“This is a serious enough issue that we've asked the council to move forward now and allocate additional funds instead of waiting until next year,” Cutler said.
Serious enough, too, that the City Council will consider tonight approving a $300,000 addition to an existing landfill-related, $96,650 contract with Seattle-based Herrera Environmental Consultants' to fix the problem and examine funding options.
The Utility Advisory Committee unanimously forwarded to the City Council a recommendation that council members approve the threefold contract add-on for Herrera.
Herrera already is designing repairs to a compromised drainage system at the landfill.
Company officials gave an extended presentation on issues facing the landfill to a June 12 meeting of the city Utility Advisory Committee, chaired by Di Guilio and attended by Mayor Cherie Kidd and council members Brooke Nelson and Patrick Downie.
The problem area is 125 feet above the Strait along an area that stretches 1,000 feet along the bluff.
The western half of the area already is protected by a wall built at the toe of the bluff in 2006-2007, when the landfill was fully closed and garbage began transfer to Tacoma and eventually a superdump in Eastern Oregon.
The bluff “is at risk today, even with bluff abatements,” civil engineer Tom Bourke of Herrera told the advisory committee.
“If we had a seismic event, we would probably lose our whole landfill,” he said.
The $3.5 million in the landfill closure fund will not likely be enough to address the problem, city City Engineer Mike Puntenney said.
“This whole project will undoubtedly require a rate increase, no doubt about it,” he said.
“You've got 11 feet and the liner is already exposed.”
Bill Harris, state Department of Ecology's regional solid waste engineer, was in the audience for the June 12 presentation.
Cutting the slope back on the landfill's west side and putting a wall in “was work that we knew needed to be done,” Harris said in a later interview.
“It's quite a significant concern, and we are glad the city is taking steps to try and address it,” Harris said.
There may be federal grants available to patch up the landfill, but state Department of Ecology resources are limited, he added.
“This is really outside the scope of what we do as far as grant money goes,” Harris said.
The landfill was operated by a private contractor from the 1950s to 1979, when the city of Port Angeles took over the dump, Cutler said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: June 18. 2012 6:12PM