Ecology publishes Rayonier off-property soil dioxin study

Ecology publishes Rayonier off-property soil dioxin study

Posted 13 July 2011, by Staff, Department of Ecology (State of Washington),

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) today released a draft report that evaluates soil dioxin levels in a defined area outside the former Rayonier Mill in Port Angeles. Ecology initiated the Rayonier Mill Off-Property Soil Dioxin Study in fall 2008 as part of its work on the mill’s cleanup.

The study was designed to measure the amount of dioxins in surface soils near the mill and downwind of the mill and to determine any link to the former Rayonier Mill’s pulp-and-paper operations. However, it wasn’t designed to evaluate potential health risk or determine boundaries of Rayonier’s cleanup responsibilities.

Ecology shared initial sample results in February 2009 with property owners who participated in the study and with the public. The full report released today provides an indepth analysis of those results and concludes Rayonier’s emissions fit one of three source patterns that contributed to dioxins found in soils off the mill’s property.

The study involved taking samples from the top three inches of soil at 85 locations. The samples were measured for total dioxin contamination and then analyzed further using a statistical model – called chemometrics – to “unmix” the different sources that contributed to the overall dioxin result.

Four lines of evidence allowed Ecology’s researcher to conclude that Rayonier was one source of dioxins that were found outside the mill’s property. The other two source patterns were consistent with sources of dioxin generated by tire burning or pesticide use and what’s typically found in urban soils. The third source pattern matched a hog fuel boiler profile, which Ecology believes is attributable to Rayonier’s air emissions based on the four lines of evidence.

A public comment period on the draft report begins July 14 and runs through Aug. 30, 2011.

There will be two meetings on Aug. 3, 2011, at Port Angeles Senior Center for interested community members to learn more about the study and its findings:

  • Technical workshop, 3 to 5 p.m., craft room, with the chief researcher, Greg Glass.
  • Open house and presentation, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., multi-purpose room, led by Ecology staff.

Copies of the draft report are at the Port Angeles Public Library, Peninsula College Library and Ecology’s office in Lacey. It can also be found on Ecology’s webpage, along with a fact sheet and reading guide summarizing the study.

Ecology staff will respond to the comments in a responsiveness summary after the comment period ends.

According to the state cleanup law, Rayonier has environmental liability even if it is one of several sources contributing to the overall contamination. Ecology and Rayonier are in discussions about how to use these results to better understand what should happen next.

Ecology and Rayonier are currently working under a March 2010 legal agreed order on the cleanup of the mill property and part of the harbor. Rayonier recently completed a key task when it submitted a technical document summarizing work done to finish the investigation phase on that project.


Media Contact: Kim Schmanke, 

For more information:
Background about the Rayonier Off-Property Study (

February 2009 news announcing initial results from the off-property study (

July 2008 news announcing soil sampling plan (


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