Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site

A Puget Sound Initiative site - reaching the goal of a healthy, sustainable Puget Sound.

Before Cleanup Photo Credit: Russ McMillan
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Port Gamble Bay is located in Kitsap County and encompasses more than two square miles of subtidal and shallow intertidal habitat south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site consists of the fill on which the former sawmill was located, the adjacent uplands and most of Port Gamble Bay. The upland area of the site consists of former sawmill facility footprint and the adjacent uplands. The site was used by Pope & Talbot, Inc. to manufacture forest products from 1853 to 1995. The mill was shut down in 1995 and removed in 1997, after which the fill area was leased for log sorting, wood chipping, marine research and other light industrial activities.  

Historical operations on this property resulted in the release of pollutants from wood product manufacturing and treatment activities, including the use of pentachlorophenol, incineration of salt-laden wood (and aerial deposition of resulting ash) and landfilling of used contaminated materials. These pollutants included metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs) and dioxins/furans. Some of these contaminants have been found in soil surrounding the mill and in sediments and shellfish tissue in Port Gamble Bay. In addition to releasing toxic substances, wood waste has affected the marine sediments and benthic organisms. When wood waste breaks down, it releases sulfide and ammonia, which are harmful to bottom-dwelling animals. Wood waste can also smother aquatic habitat and animals such as clams.

Cleanup work in Port Gamble Bay was completed in 2017. Ecology and the Potentially Liable Parties, Pope Resources and OPG Properties, LLC, are now focused on cleanup at the uplands Mill Site.


Cleanup planning (2020)

In early 2020, we invited comments on several cleanup planning documents for the final phases of cleanup at the Port Gamble site.

Those documents included a cleanup action plan, a supplement to the remedial investigation and feasibility study - this describes earlier cleanup actions, and presents an evaluation of final cleanup alternatives, a consent decree that legally binds the potentially liable parties to the work described in the cleanup action plan, and a State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) checklist and determination.

Interested in more information?

You can find these documents by clicking the “View Electronic Documents” link on the right, you can read a fact sheet that summarizes the public comment period, watch a video of the online open house, and you can read Ecology's responses to the comments we received in our responsiveness summary.

Uplands investigation (2017)

In October 2017, Ecology entered into an formal legal agreement called an
Agreed Order with the Potentially Liable Parties (PLPs), Pope Resources and OPG Properties LLC. This requires them to conduct environmental cleanup at the uplands portion of the site. As part of the agreed order, Pope Resources and OPG Properties LLC agreed to conduct a Supplemental Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study, and draft a Cleanup
Action Plan for the site.

Recent cleanup of the in-water portion of the site (2015-2017)

The in-water portion of Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site cleanup is complete as of January 2017.

Cleanup highlights include:

  • Over 8,500 mostly creosote-treated pilings removed  
  • Wood waste and contaminated sediment removed: over 110,000 cubic yards
  • Overwater and derelict structures removed: over 55,000 square feet, or about one acre
  • Clean capping and habitat materials placed: over 200,000 tons
  • Clean sand placed to accelerate natural recovery: over 113,000 cubic yards
  • Length of shoreline improved along mill site: over 3,400 feet
    Total area cleaned up: over 106 acres

Many efforts to improve marine and shoreline habitat and restore native species such as oysters are complete. 
Previous cleanup of the Bay (2003-2014)
There have been a few previous cleanup actions to address contamination in the bay. Between 2002 and 2005, 26,310 tons of contaminated soil were excavated from upland areas of the site. In the nearshore area adjacent to the sawmill, 31,000 cubic yards of wood debris were dredged in 2003 and 2007. The southern portion of the upland fill area is subject to ongoing monitoring to confirm trends of decreasing arsenic (below required minimum standards) in groundwater.

A partial Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study was initiated in 2008 and finalized in 2012. There were originally separate RI/FS reports for the in-water areas adjacent to the former sawmill and for the remainder of the bay. This included an area along the southwest shore that the Department of Natural Resources had previously leased to Pope and Talbot for rafting and storing logs. The partial RI/FS only deals with part of the overall Port Gamble Bay and Mill Site.  

The partial Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study led to the development in 2013 of Ecology’s Cleanup Action Plan. It is included as Appendix A in the Consent Decree, which Ecology and the PLPs entered into in December 2013. The Cleanup Action Plan focused on the in-water portion of the Site and identified cleanup actions  for five locations designated as Sediment Management Areas. Cleanup in these areas focused on:

  • Eliminating threats to human health from exposure to cPAHs, dioxins/furans, petroleum hydrocarbons and cadmium.
  • Eliminating threats to the environment from wood waste toxicity.
  • Completing as much environmental cleanup as possible while minimizing impacts of the cleanup.


You can find legal, technical, and public information documents for the site by clicking the “View Electronic Documents” link in the navigation menu on the right.

During public comment periods, you can find documents in hard copy at the document repositories listed in the navigation menu on the right.



Map showing site location as Kitsap County, WA SITE INFORMATION


View Electronic Documents

Cleanup Site Details Report

Facility Site ID: # 93937775

Cleanup Site ID: 3444

Port Gamble, Kitsap County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

John Evered
Site Manager
(360) 407-7071

Document Repositories:

300 Desmond Dr SE
Lacey, 98503

Poulsbo Library
700 NE Lincoln Street
Poulsbo, 98370

Little Boston Library
31980 Little Boston Road NE
Kingston, 98346