Demolition work over at former mill site

EVERETT — The industrial tangle that once was Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s Everett mill is no longer a figurative blank slate, but a literal one as well.

A contractor wrapped up a year’s worth of demolition work earlier this month, leaving most the waterfront property as flat as a parade ground.

It’s a startling contrast with the brick and steel edifices that loomed there after the mill shut down for good in April 2012.

“There’s still some equipment there that has to be broken up and taken away, but the actual demo work is done,” Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand said Thursday.

A large, beige warehouse will remain standing at the south end of the property, unless a new owner decides to knock it down. For now, the roof is the seasonal home of hundreds of Caspian terns. There are no plans to make the birds leave, Brand said.

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark continues to market the property, hoping a buyer will snap up all 66 acres in one piece. Brand said there’s a lot of interest, but no sale to report.

About 700 workers lost jobs when the mill closed.

The City Council in January voted 6-1 to zone much of the site for water-dependent industrial development, in hopes of attracting new blue-collar jobs.

Leaders at the Port of Everett remain interested in expanding operations onto the old mill property, port spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber said. Before reaching a decision, they want to finish ongoing environmental, legal and operational studies.

Naval Station Everett, located next door, is not looking to buy the property.

The state Department of Ecology is sampling crushed debris, soil and groundwater at the site. That work will inform a future clean-up agreement with Kimberly-Clark.

An agreement isn’t expected for at least a year, said Andy Kallus, the state’s site manager. People will have a chance to comment on the cleanup at public hearings before any deal is finalized.

Recent samples have turned up elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in the fill, though Kimberly-Clark insists the amount is low enough to allow for industrial development.

The decontamination process on land is expected to take about three years, though it can proceed simultaneously with redevelopment. Cleanup in the East Waterway, where dioxins have been detected, is more complex and is being treated separately.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in May issued a warning over excessive dust being created by the demolition. It has taken no further action since the contractor stepped up efforts to control the dust clouds.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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