Here in Part Two of the Nippon Saga, we’ll be looking at some seemingly random, seemingly unconnected facts dealing with Port Angeles, Nippon, and the local water supply.
Basic Fact: Nippon is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan, despite Cherie Kidd’s oft stated description of them as being “a local company.”
Random Fact 1: As stated previously by a commenter, Nippon pays the City a whopping $15,000 a year for the right to use up to 20 million gallons of water a day. Yes, just $15,000 a year for 20 million gallons a day. Even with a calculator, I can’t figure out how little Nippon pays for their water.
Random Fact 2: Related to the fact above…Did you know that there’s no water meter at the Nippon plant? In other words, there is no way to know how much water they actually draw from the system.
Random Fact 3: Related to the fact above…Did you know that, during the time of year when the Elwha flow is the lowest, which is also the time of year that salmon return to spawn, that Nippon’s 20 million gallons a day “allotment” could often exceed the total flow of the river? In other words, during this time of year, Nippon could conceivably drain the river dry. Gee, do you think the Feds might be open to a little blackmail from a certain “local company” to keep them from doing just that? Hmmm…
This year's salmon fishing season is brought to you by Nippon!
Random Fact 4: As part of the Elwha River Restoration Act, it was mandated that the National Park Service protect Port Angeles’ industrial water supply. At the time the act was written and passed, there were multiple mills (industrial water users) in Port Angeles. By the time the dams came out, the only industrial water user left was Nippon.
Random Fact 5: To meet this requirement to protect Port Angeles’ industrial water supply, the NPS worked directly with Nippon, not the City. They cut a deal, and then told the City. Our then City Manager Kent Myers was allowed to look at the agreement, but wasn’t allowed to have a copy – even though it was all (in theory) about protecting the City’s water supply.
Memo to Kent Myers: Look, but don't touch. So much for scumbag solidarity, eh Kent?
Random Fact 6: For all the years that Nippon received their water from the City, the City was contractually bound to provide them with water suitable for industrial use. When the NPS and Nippon cut their secret deal, the NPS agreed to build a new water treatment plant for Nippon’s water supply – a treatment plant that would provide them with water treated with the same processes and chemicals used to produce commercial bottled water.
Random Fact 7: There are no blueprints, plans, permits or other information available through either the City or the County for this new water treatment plant. It was just built, and there it is. The City didn’t even know about it until it had already been built and was functioning – and adding the abovementioned chemicals to the water.
Random Fact 8: Related to Fact 2 and 7 above…Since there is no water meter at the end of the industrial water line at Nippon, it is impossible to know how much (chemically-treated) water is leaking out of the pipeline before it gets there. But it is almost certainly leaking somewhere.
Random Fact 9: Another part of the agreement to “protect Port Angeles’ industrial water supply” involves a cash payment from the NPS – to Nippon. Yes, Nippon gets a little over $7 million dollars in cash – cash that they can do with as they please. All they have to do is keep the mill “operational” for a few years. Under the terms of the agreement, “operational” essentially means they could turn out one roll of paper a year and it counts as keeping the mill “operational.” Once that term is up, they can pocket the cash – and close the mill (if they wanted to).
Random Fact 10: Years ago, the City and the PUD signed a contract wherein the PUD agreed to build a new reservoir for the City, to be completed a couple of years ago. The PUD dropped the ball, and didn’t do so. They defended their failure by (correctly) noting that when the two parties had signed the agreement years before, all trends showed a net growth in Port Angeles in the next decade, but that more recent models all showed a projected shrinkage in Port Angeles – thus making an additional water storage facility unnecessary.
Random Fact 11: Despite the fact that there really and truly didn’t seem to be any present or future need for a new reservoir, and despite the fact that no one else in City Hall or on the City Council seemed too upset by the PUD’s failure, Glenn Cutler went ballistic. As you may already know, the PUD also gets their water from the City, and on more than one occasion during this period, Glenn Cutler personally threatened to turn off their water supply.
Better living through technology - Glenn Cutler-style!
Question 1: Why was Glenn Cutler so upset?
Question 2: How do these random pieces of information all fit together?
Question 3: Why all this effort to protect and enhance the water supply of a dying mill in a remote, dying town?
Question 4: Have you ever heard of a company called Veolia?
Question 5: Did you know Veolia has a foot in the door right here in Port Angeles?
Suggestion 1: Google the phrase “Veolia lawsuits” and see what turns up. And stay tuned for the third and final part of this series…