KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a Ketchikan Pulp Co. cleanup plan for the old Ward Cove pulp mill.
The ''Record of Decision'' outlines protection measures for marine life in the cove and sets guidelines for future development for the area.
''We are nearing the end of the process,'' said the EPA's Andrea Lindsay. ''In other words, the record of decision is the final primary document that lays out the final cleanup decision for the site.
''... In the case of Ward Cove, it marks the beginning of the actual cleanup phase,'' she told radio station KRBD.
The focus of the cleanup plan is 80 acres of sediment on the bottom of Ward Cove.
The record of decision calls for spreading some sand over 28 acres of the cove's floor. It also calls for dredging about four acres of sediment in front of the main dock and near the log deck. The dredged sediments will be placed in a landfill.
The cove's 50 remaining acres can't be covered because the area is too steep, too deep or covered with piles of sunken logs, the agency said. Natural recovery is the best remedy there, the EPA said.
Federal studies did not detect any direct threats to human health in the Cove, nor to fish, animals or wildlife. But the organic material on the floor of the cove is said to be toxic to worms, clams and other organisms that live on the bottom, the EPA said.
It's hoped that the cleanup will reduce the toxicity of sediments that support marine life, officials said.
Monitoring will continue for at least five years once the cleanup is over.
The EPA said it was developing a separate record of decision for the landward side of the old plant. Cleanup there is all but finished, but still more work may be necessary if future construction or demolition unearths any contamination, Louisiana-Pacific spokesman David Dugan said.
Gateway Forest Products bought the Ketchikan Pulp Co.'s assets at Ward Cove last fall. Gateway plans to open a veneer mill on the site late this summer.
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