The Council voted Wednesday to give City Attorney Jim Iles authority to sue the Dallas-based company over what the city says is a failure to complete the work on the site by a June 15 deadline.
City officials say Kimberly-Clark was supposed to cover the rubble with one foot of topsoil and plant grass to prevent possibly contaminated dust from being stirred up.
“There’s an obligation under the approved demolition permit for the Kimberly-Clark site that requires topsoil and seeding,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
That demolition permit was issued in 2012, shortly after the company closed its mill. The city intends to move forward with a suit within a few weeks, she said.
Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand said the company, so far, has met all requirements to clean up the location.
Covering the site with topsoil and grass addresses a problem that doesn’t exist, he said. Dust has not been an issue since demolition work was finished, and if it became a problem it could be solved without laying down topsoil.
“If there was a public safety or environmental concern at stake, we would understand” the city’s position, Brand said.
The company has also told the city that adding the topsoil and grass would make the property harder to sell, because a new owner would have to do more work to prepare the site for future use.
After the company closed its mill in early 2012, it knocked down buildings and tore up the pavement, leaving the site covered with crushed concrete. It is still working with the state Department of Ecology to clean up the area.
Kimberly-Clark in 2013 proposed a revised plan for the final condition of the site that would not include topsoil or grass.
The city rejected that plan, but instead extended the deadline for seeding to April 15 to allow more environmental work.
That deadline was again extended, to June 15, because Kimberly-Clark was in talks to sell the site to Seattle-based Saltchuk, which planned to use it for its subsidiary, Foss Maritime Co.
A tentative deal fell apart at the end of April because the two sides could not agree who should pay to address concerns about the land’s stability during an earthquake. Talks are continuing between the two firms.
The city and Mayor Ray Stephanson hoped the sale would go through, and that Foss Maritime would bring a few hundred jobs to the waterfront.
Barring that, Stephanson said in May that he wanted the land to be cleaned up to make it attractive to a broader spectrum of potential buyers.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454 or email@example.com.
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