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 (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.

In-water cleanup complete. Upland cleanup pending. Photo Credit: Pope Resources
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Uplands investigation (2017)

Two technical documents, a draft Agreed Order (AO) and Supplemental Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study RI/FS) work plan for Upland cleanup, are available for public comment and review (see Site Documents below). In October 2017, Ecology entered into an Agreed Order (AO) with the Potentially Liable Persons (PLPs, Pope Resources/Olympic Property Group (PR/OPG)), a formal legal agreement to provide remedial action at the uplands portion of the Site. As part of the AO, PR/OPG agrees to conduct a Supplemental RI/FS and develop an updated RI/FS and draft Cleanup Action Plan (CAP) for the Site.
The Supplemental RI/FS work plan presents a summary of previous remedial investigations and cleanup evaluations and activities completed at the Site. The Supplemental RI/FS work plan also provides a description of additional methods for addressing residual contamination, specifically how to determine the approximate vertical and horizontal extent of dioxin/furan contamination at the Site and surrounding uplands. This work plan will support further investigation and development of an updated RI/FS, as indicated in the draft Agreed Order.
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:Creosote-treated pilings removed: over 8,500
  • 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 RI/FS 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 RI/FS led to the development in 2013 of Ecology’s CAP. It is included as Appendix A in the Consent Decree, which Ecology and the PLPs entered into in December 2013. The CAP focuses on the in-water portion of the Site and identifies cleanup actions for five locations designated as Sediment Management Areas (SMAs). Cleanup in these areas is currently underway (see Recent cleanup of the Bay, above) with the following goals:

  • Eliminate threats to human health including cPAHs, dioxins/furans, petroleum hydrocarbons and cadmium
  • Eliminate threats to the environment driven by wood waste toxicity
  • Achieve the greatest amount of active cleanup while minimizing impacts of cleanup

Additional work to characterize upland areas affected by the activities and operation of sawmill will occur in a later phase (see Uplands investigation, above).


A selection of documents are listed below. Click on the Port Gamble Bay Cleanup and Restoration Folio for more details. Information about the cleanup can also be found at the Potentially Liable Parties' website Port Gamble Bay Cleanup.

Additional electronic documents pertaining to the site can be found under the "View Electronic Documents" link located in the right column. You can also review site documents at the Poulsbo Public Library, Little Boston Library or at the Department of Ecology Headquarters.

October 20 - November 20, 2017 Public Comment Period Documents

Engineering Design Report

Final Consent Decree and Final Cleanup Action Plan

Partial Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study



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

Arthur Kapell
Site Manager
(360) 407-7242

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