Kimberly-Clark site work halts soon after it began
EVERETT — Cleanup of the former Kimberly-Clark mill site has halted while Washingtonians shelter at home to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
“In response to Gov. (Jay) Inslee’s order, we have paused our work at the site,” said Kimberly-Clark spokesman Terry Balluck. Clean up will resume “as soon as it is appropriate to do so.”
Workers had spent a week removing contaminated soil prior to Inslee’s decree that all non-essential businesses shutter until at least April 6. Construction is considered non-essential except for certain projects.
The plan is to clear about 12,000 tons of contaminated soil and 200,000 tons of crushed material from the waterfront property before the end of the year.
As with many current ventures, it is too early to tell how much the virus measures will disrupt that timetable.
Kimberly-Clark hired Burlington-based Interwest Construction to complete both the cleanup and crushed materials removal. Work began two weeks ahead of schedule.
“The most important thing is that this is the first time we’ve seen jobs on this site since the mill closed,” said Port of Everett spokeswoman Catherine Soper. “It’s the first step to getting future maritime jobs.”
The port bought the mill site last year, and plans to start developing it for maritime use after Kimberly-Clark finishes its state-regulated cleanup.
When clean up resumes, Soper said truck traffic will be at volumes similar to those of the ex-paper mill before it shuttered in 2012.
Dust is being contained through air monitoring, a truck wheel wash, and an on-site water truck to dampen roads. Interwest drivers were practicing social distancing, holding meetings remotely from their trucks, before the stoppage.
Site cleanup would be completed in sections, from east to west. Regular work hours were 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
As soon as the job is done, and the state Department of Ecology signs off on the cleanup, the port plans to begin transforming it to a maritime hub.
Port leaders authorized a $2.6-million on-call contract with Seattle-based KPFF Engineers to “get the property back into productive maritime use in short order,” according to a port press release.
The first steps are building a cargo terminal and finding tenants for a 4,000-square-foot warehouse leftover from the Kimberly-Clark mill.
The port says redevelopment will create 950 jobs within three years.
“This is our top priority, making sure this site gets back into productive use,” Soper said. “Bringing jobs back is really, really critical.”
The port has a 24/7 construction and noise hotline at 425-388-0269, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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