Experts to discuss mill cleanup

EVERETT — Anybody who’s interested in what it’ll take to clean up toxic leftovers at Kimberly-Clark’s former waterfront mill can check in with the City Council tonight.

Representatives from Kimberly-Clark and the state Department of Ecology are scheduled to give a briefing during the council’s regular 6:30 p.m. meeting.

Bob Brand, a spokesman for Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp., said the presentation would be “quick and informative.”

“We want to reaffirm our commitment to cleaning up the site and getting it ready for redevelopment and moving as expeditiously as we can,” Brand said.

Everett planning director Allan Giffen said the City Council requested the update in July, when it extended a development moratorium on the site by six months. That moratorium is set to expire in February. It includes a 92-acre planning area on the waterfront, 66 acres of which is the former mill property.

Environmental consultants for Kimberly-Clark have dug test wells and taken soil samples, Giffen said.

Previously, state environmental officials have said dioxins contaminate the waterway next to the plant at a level 15 times higher than what the state considers safe. Dioxins, which are thought to cause cancer in humans, are a result of the bleaching process in making paper.

There’s also petroleum contamination on land where oil companies operated for much of the 20th century.

“We haven’t found anything that was unexpected or that causes us great concern,” Brand said.

The Department of Ecology’s presentation will focus on contamination found on the land, said Seth Preston, an agency spokesman.

The state has reached an agreement with Kimberly-Clark outlining the kinds of studies and investigations that will be done there, Preston said. Those studies will be used to put together a cleanup plan, which will be subject to public comment.

Councilman Paul Roberts said he was looking forward to learning more about the extent of the contamination and the plan for addressing it. That information should help inform future planning decisions to put the land to its best use.

“The two of them need to come together,” Roberts said. “It’ll be important for us to be looking both at the cleanup status and the planning recommendation.”

City planning commissioners continue to look into zoning the site. Another hearing is scheduled on Oct. 23, when commissioners could settle on a preferred plan to recommend to the City Council.

Commissioners have been examining a plan that would require water-dependent manufacturing along the shoreline, Giffen said. Public access would be encouraged, but not required. Uses that don’t depend on water access would be allowed outside of a 200-foot shoreline zone.

The Port of Everett, which borders the property, wants to keep the property for maritime industrial use. Port commissioners last month passed a resolution to support that position. The Port also is studying the possibility of buying the property.

More than 700 workers lost jobs when Kimberly-Clark shut down the mill in April.

Commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews has reported interest from potential buyers. Non-disclosure agreements prevent the company from saying who has taken an interest.

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

Kimberly-Clark mill meetings

Tonight’s update on cleaning up the Kimberly-Clark mill site is scheduled during the regular 6:30 p.m. City Council meeting at 3002 Wetmore Ave.

At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23, the city Planning Commission has scheduled a hearing on choosing a preferred zoning option for the former mill site and surrounding property.

That meeting is at Everett Station’s Weyerhaeuser Room, 3201 Smith St. If the commission reaches a decision, its recommendation would be forwarded to the City Council.

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