Foss owner seeks more time to evaluate Everett mill site

EVERETT — Saltchuk, the Seattle-based company in talks to buy the Kimberly-Clark Corp. waterfront mill site, has asked for more time to finish due diligence on the land.

Saltchuk still aims to close the deal before July, said Emily Reiter, a spokeswoman for the transportation and petroleum distribution company. And Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand said the Dallas-based company is willing to grant more time and is working with Saltchuk on the terms.

Saltchuk didn’t ask for more time because it uncovered any surprises about the 66-acre site in the Port of Everett or is having second thoughts, Reiter said.

“It’s just a little more complicated than we had time for in the four-month period,” she said.

Saltchuk is buying the land as a new home for its subsidiary, Foss Maritime Co., which operates a shipyard and maintains a fleet of tugs, barges and other specialty vessels.

Foss has outgrown its 25-acre home along Seattle’s freshwater Ship Canal, which employs up to 250 workers during busy times and as few as 75 during slow periods. The company also has a smaller shipyard in Rainier, Ore., which would not move.

After the sale, the maritime company would transition to Everett likely in phases, Reiter said.

Saltchuk’s other holdings include companies involved in shipping, trucking, marine transport, air cargo and petroleum distribution. The private, family-owned company employs about 6,500 people nationwide, including about 800 around metro Puget Sound.

Kimberly-Clark is removing petroleum-contaminated soil from the area, which has been in heavy industrial use for decades, while waiting for the state Department of Ecology to approve a site cleanup plan.

The company identified the contaminated spots while demolishing its paper mill, Brand said.

Kimberly-Clark acquired the land in the 1980s when it bought the Scott Paper Co.

The deal with Saltchuk was announced last October. Neither side will comment on the sale price.

Sale of the land doesn’t depend on finishing the cleanup, Brand said.

After the sale, cleanup would continue even as Foss started moving to its new home at the Port of Everett, he said.

“It’s hard to predict an end date” for the cleanup, which could go into 2015, Brand said.

The cleanup work now is focused largely on contaminated dry land. The earth below the East Waterway will also have to be cleaned up, but that process is just starting, he said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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