Smoldering fire may bring fines

EVERETT — Fines may be coming because of Kimberly-Clark’s massive smoldering pile of wood waste.

The state just issued the company with a violation notice, the first step that’s taken when a company is accused of violating state environmental laws.

The smoldering pile, just east of E. Grand Avenue, has been burning at least since early August, and residents of the Riverside neighborhood say they have been bothered by the smoke almost as long. However, the state says no one complained until Sept. 27.

It is not certain whether the company will be fined for violations of state and federal air-quality laws said Larry Altose, a spokesman with the state Department of Ecology.

“The company has been very forthcoming with us,” Altose said. “They seem to find the situation not acceptable and are doing something about it.”

Four days before the state put the tissue maker on notice, Kimberly-Clark sent the Department of Ecology a letter outlining how it planned to extinguish the fire and minimize smoke billowing into the neighborhood.

Christine Kurtz, the Everett plant’s environmental manager, said the company plans to hand over an even more detailed action plan to the state this week.

The company faces fines of up to $10,000 a day for each air quality violation.

Earlier this year, Kimberly-Clark was fined $16,000 by the state for a mishap at its waterfront mill that violated air-quality laws and covered much of the city with a potent rotten-egg smell for two days in April.

The latest apparent violation comes from a mountain of shredded bark and other wood scrap called “hog fuel” that spontaneously caught fire at a storage yard in August.

The material is burned in a Snohomish County Public Utilities-owned co-generation boiler at the mill to create steam. The steam is used in paper-making and generates electricity.

The company typically stores as much as 60,000 tons of the material at the site near the Snohomish River, but because of a downed boiler at its waterfront plant, it began stockpiling the fuel. The pile grew to as much as 120,000 tons. Kimberly-Clark has been unable to extinguish the smoldering fire.

Kimberly-Clark has about 850 employees in Everett and produces about 1 million rolls of toilet paper and other paper products a day.

Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

HRT Rescue Technician Andy Toyota gives the thumbs-up to crew members in the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue helicopter shortly before takeoff during an interagency training session held by Northwest Regional Aviation on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at the Arlington Airport in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
From around state, authorities simulate ‘terrorist attack’ in Arlington

Teams from King County, Snohomish County and elsewhere converged for a multi-faceted scenario Thursday at the Arlington Municipal Airport.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

5 Snohomish County sisters accused of $1M fraud scheme

For two years, the women used online return postage to get gift cards, then returning the physical items to a brick-and-mortar store, charges say.

FILE — Michael Whitaker, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, testifies before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 6, 2024. Whitaker told a Senate panel, on Thursday, June 13, 2024, that changes are being made to the agency’s oversight of Boeing, including conducting more safety inspections. (Anna Rose Layden/The New York Times)
Boeing discloses new quality problem on 787 Dreamliner jets

The issue affects jets built in South Carolina that have yet to be delivered, the company said in a statement.

Alvin Cooper (Photo provided by Marysville School District)
After allegations, Marysville schools’ HR director resigns

Last week, the district’s finance director Lisa Gonzales publicly called for the school board to put Alvin Cooper on leave, citing mismanagement.

Leslie Davis, left, and Lyndsay Lamb, twin sister stars of HGTV's "Unsellable Houses" and 2004 Snohomish High School graduates, donated a private design session to the school's auction fundraiser for their 20-year reunion. (Photo provided)
Got $2,000? Bid on face time with HGTV’s ‘Unsellable Houses’ twins

The sisters are offering up themselves in a fundraiser for their Class of 2004 Snohomish High 20-year reunion.

Fake gun sends Cascade High School into lockdown

Police detained a suspect with a fake weapon around 12:30 p.m. The lockout was lifted before 1:30 p.m.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.