KALAMA — The Port of Kalama will shut down its wastewater treatment plant after about 25 years because it’s not cost effective to operate.
Port commissioners voted Wednesday to use the plant for storage, haul waste to a licensed facility and to eliminate two positions.
The port will offer the two staff members one month paid administrative leave for every year of service as severance compensation, said Executive Director Mark Wilson.
Wilson said it’s cost-prohibitive to operate the plant, at about $250,000 to $300,000 per year.
The port will pump out the waste and transport it to the city of Kalama’s treatment plant for processing, at a cost of about $18,000. Wilson said the Washington State Department of Transportation does something similar for its rest stops.
Port Commissioner Troy Stariha said as long as tenants get the same service, it will be good to save money.
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The port is preserving its permits to operate the plant but there are no plans to reopen it in the near future, said spokesman Dan Polacek.
The port built the plant in 1996 in preparation for the opening of Steelscape, a steel coating plant, in 1997 because at the time the city had a moratorium on new sewer connections, Wilson said.
The state Department of Ecology in 2002 instated the moratorium and ordered the city to build a new wastewater treatment plant because the old plant didn’t meet state standards. Ecology lifted the moratorium in 2005 when the new treatment plant came online.
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Wilson said the port intended the plant to serve future industries in the North Port area but the “flow of waste stream hasn’t materialized.”
The facility serves about 10 businesses, including Steelscape, in the Kalama River Industrial Park.
Polacek said there isn’t a set date to close the plant but that it will be in the near future.