City mulls monitoring air following biomass controversy


Sequim Gazette staff

Following decisions to pursue and then abandon a forum on the biomass-fueled cogeneration facility at the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill in Port Angeles, Sequim city councilors are considering ways to monitor the city’s air quality for more facts.


A draft resolution brought to councilors on May 29 proposes councilors ask the Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) to pay for and operate an air quality monitoring station in Sequim.


The resolution asks for $55,500 to $63,100 for at least three years plus $20,000-$22,000 in upfront costs.


Councilors consider the resolution at their Monday, June 11, meeting. The resolution mentions that councilors previously discussed particulate matter from the plant coming to Sequim and affecting residents and visitors, particularly its elderly population.


Mayor Pro-tem Ted Miller said the council has good reason to explore the resolution particularly if the city doesn’t have to pay for it.


City Manager Steve Burkett said he asked ORCAA officials informally about the monitor before and he was told the city must pay for it itself. 


“There might be more weight to this if the council makes a resolution,” Burkett said.


Councilor Laura Dubois said ORCAA puts its budget together in June and city councilors should act by the next meeting.


Fran McNair, executive director of ORCAA, told the Gazette she sent the city criteria for putting in a monitor to the city, but her agency doesn’t have the budget to do so.


“We need to have some conversations, but I don’t have it in my budget,” she said.


Burkett said if ORCAA declines, the option to finance the project would come to city council again, but there’s nothing in the city budget for something like it.


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