Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's the Water Part Two: Random Acts or Blindness?

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…


  1. I can't imagine that the federal government, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the Elwha, would be thrilled with a Japanese company then draining the river dry. But given how crooked and dysfunctional everything seems to be on the Olympic Peninsula, who knows how much Nippon could further extort from the government? In the bizarre world of Port Angeles, anything is possible - especially if it makes no sense whatsoever.

  2. I don't know if this is investigative journalism or anything, but you seem to be building to something. You've got me interested...I'll stay tuned.

    1. You know, I don't recall reading much of any of what you've written about here so far in the PDN. Thanks, CK, for pulling some of the skeletons out of the crypt. Paul Gottlieb should be so bold.

    2. I think you meant to say Paul Gottlieb should be so fetid.

  3. From, Jan. 29th, 2014:

    American Water Works Co. (AWK) may be among the companies that most benefit from regulatory and industry changes after the chemical spill on West Virginia’s Elk River, according to Brean Capital analyst Michael Gaugler.

    “We see the potential for swift, decisive industry and regulatory action in the U.S. water industry,” Gaugler wrote today in a note to clients. He cited infrastructure and related upgrades following natural gas distribution line explosions in the U.S., when companies “suddenly became very focused on getting the oldest pipe out of the ground.”

    The Environmental Protection Agency may speed its timetable for expanding contaminant regulations, which would bolster business for large water companies. It may also provide potential acquisition and outsourcing contracts for France’s Veolia Environnement SA (VIE) and Suez Environnement Co. (SEV) and the largest water operators in the U.S. such as American Water.

    Industry groups including the American Water Works Association and municipalities will closely consider what may happen should a similar incident happen near them, he wrote. The spill this month left 300,000 people in and around West Virginia’s capital without drinking water for days.

    Municipalities are “coming to the realization that Elk River could happen anywhere, and that they themselves wouldn’t have the same level of expertise and resources to deal with something of that scale,” Gaugler said.

    American Water, the biggest publicly traded water company in the U.S., will incur water sale of losses of as much as $3 million tied to Elk River and its West Virginia unit, Gaugler estimated. He rates the stock, which has risen 11 percent over the past year, a buy.

  4. I saw what looked for a job posting for Veolia to run a 64 MGD (million gallons per day) water treatment facility, that had "Port Angeles" in the description. 64 is a lot more than 20MGD!

    Why Cutler went ballistic? Ever be around him? Everyone knew him to be a petty tyrant.

    1. Can you please tell us where you saw that job posting???

    2. Hey CK, here is one that is "interesting":

      Veolia Water North America‎
      03/25/2014Veolia to Work with Los Angeles to Apply Industry Best Practices to
      Water Meter Maintenance and Inspection, Chemical Procurement.

      1901 Kacee Way, Port Angeles, WA 98362, United States

      and the other:

      Operations Supervisor - Water Treatment at Veolia Water North ...‎
      Operations Supervisor - Water Treatment. Veolia Water North America - Port
      Angeles, WA. Posted 59 days ago. Experience. Mid-Senior level. Job function.

      I don't know if these are real, or some kind of computer/search weird thing.

    3. The Elwha Water Treatment Plant (EWTP) alongside the river was built to process at least 64 million gallons of water a day --- absurdly over-capacity for the need. PA's entire municipal drinking water system averages under 3 million gallons a day of water use; and that includes all residential and commercial water customers in the city (except Nippon), PLUS the water sold to the Clallam PUD. Some of the EWTP water also goes to the tribal fish hatchery when the hatchery needs it. But even maximizing the amount needed there, it is easy to see that the National Park Service way, way, way over-built the EWTP facilities.
      Add together 20 million gallons/day to Nippon; 3 mgd to the City; and a generous10 mgd to the hatchery, and any third grader can do the math and realize that the EWTP is far larger and more complex than necessary. The EWTP facilities include no less than four (4) fifteen million gallon capacity treatment tanks; at least two of which are unnecessary. Imagine Cutler's 5 million gallon CSO turd tank times twelve, and that is the water storage capacity built at taxpayer expense down by the riverside for Port Angeles and Nippon!
      Speaking of over-building and unneeded capacity: the National Park Service (meaning all of us federal taxpayers) also built the City of PA a 10 million gallon/day state-of-the-art drinking water treatment plant. It is located out by the landfill, and has never run at even half its full capability because the water it could produce simply isn't needed.
      When environmental activists and fish biologists pointed out the threat to river flows if these water treatment plants were to someday be operated at full capacity, their concerns fell on deaf ears. It was obvious that the Feds didn't truly care about restoring or protecting the river. Everyone including Norm Dicks (or maybe especially Norm Dicks) preferred to be able to boast about short term job creation and how much federal money was being spent to "benefit the local community".
      CK, you're certainly onto something here, and I'm glad you are delving into these issues.

    4. Clearly something is going on - something we mere citizens aren't supposed to be privy to. Thanks for your efforts, CK.

    5. Well, this fits into the Rogers/Cutler approach to finding ways to get as many, and as big as can be construed taxpayer funded projects they can, brought to Port Angeles. Might be interesting to see who Veolia dealt with, in getting the contract in the first place.

      From where I sit, this is more of the same. Look at the Turd Tank project as an example. They could have passed an ordinance for mandatory downspout disconnections, stopped the rain water (that causes the overflows) from getting into the sewers, and permanently solved the problem with little costs. But, that wouldn't have employed all those consultants, contractors, etc that the $50 million project did, or guarantee ongoing operational and maintenance costs for many years to come.

      So, why build water treatment facilities for what you actually need, when you can weasel another couple of hundred million from the taxpayers, just because you can?! Remember, Cutler was the city public works guy that the Feds had to deal with.

      Just more of the same.

  5. If Cutler is/was involved, it was probably a slimy deal.

    If Cutler was upset, it's probably because the slimy deal wasn't going as planned.

    We're well rid of him, but his terrible and expensive legacy will burden us for many years to come.

  6. CK, apologies, off the subject here but, if an old article starts to garner especially off subject article comment, ie: the Calhoun stuff today, avoid posting altogether, or at least post under some other, more appropriate heading. More to the point, save our and your time. Let the misfits go to PA Online or Port of Call.
    Respectfully offered as constructive criticism.
    PS: Be careful, with the POC editor. Unstable profile.
    Thanks for Unearthed's thought provoking website. Good luck.

    1. Thanks for the concern. I agree with you in general, but the Calhoun quote was just too good to let go. But I do try to keep things on subject here. This blog is posted: No Trolls.

    2. I have to say that Port O Call is aggressively challenging the staus quo more than anyone in recent history, and reaching more people with their exposures. No wonder there are folks trying to discredit and undermine what they're doing.

    3. Per Port O Call...If you have issues with it, please post them there. If you have praise for it, please post it there. In other words, there's a lot more direct way to comment on Port O Call - post it there.

    4. I agree with the direct route for POC issues. No need to clutter things up here.

      As for trolls, well, they aren't wanted anywhere, are they? That's why they sit at home alone, stewing in their own frustrations and impotent little rages. No need for that anywhere.

      Good blog. Keep up the good work.

  7. "Veolia was Originally named Compagnie Generale des Eaux in 1853, the French multi-national Vivendi Universal had over a third of the directors of its main board under investigation for corruption in 1996. Vivendi Universal sold off a majority stake in its water subsidiary, Vivendi Environment and renamed it Veolia in 2002 after a decade-long merger spree. The company sought to jettison its debt load with their credit rating reduced to 'junk' status and the forced resignation of former CEO, Jean-Marie Messier. He was convicted and fined a million dollars for fraud by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, and denied a $25 million severance package in addition to fines and a conviction in France. Veolia has hundreds of subsidiaries in dozens of countries; various names for Veolia exist under the same umbrella: US Filter, Apa Nova, United Water, PVK, General-Des-Eaux, Onyx Environmental, Dalkia, Veolia Water North America, Connex, etc.."

    "Veolia is the largest water privatization business in the world, and has come under attack by water rights activists for many of its contracts that reveal consistent prioritization of private profit at the expense of the environment and public interest."

    Well, of course, PA got involved with them. We're targets for every scambola, grifter and con artist that prey upon the naive and stupid.

    and, I found a job posting too...but it's been filled.

    1. Most companies, even multinationals, like, say, Nippon, are trying to get the brand out there. But Veolia has such a bad reputation that they have to hide behind all these many, many "other" names. My favorite of the ones you listed is "Connex." You can just see the Simpsons episode with a fake commercial saying "We put the con in Connex!"

  8. Mr. Cutler was ALWAYS upset, so, it's hard to say why he was upset this time. Call him, I think he still lives in the area. I might have an email address...

  9. Part 2 - straight forward facts and thought provoking questions! Excellent.
    Reference to Viola lawsuits was an honest, undeniable eye opener. WTF! comes to mind!
    References to Myers and Cutler, OK, but they got away, and really don't make any difference now, so what's the point? Let's focus on NOW and tomorrow!
    Hope PAUE has equally strong follow through (and call to action) with Part 3.
    We NEED serious, new leaders. Emphasis on SERIOUS!
    My questions for CK:
    How do we organize beyond reading and just posting these endless whinnings (from most readers since your beginning?)
    You have to step up the game here soon or slip into PA Online blog bog!
    How can we organize and support change, in our damn lifetimes?
    What TF's the PAUE mission????
    A dedicated, serious there a serious editor?

    1. Mission, as stated at the top of the page: "Building a Future by Exhuming the Past."

      This three part series isn't so much about where we've been, or where we are, but where we're going. To explain how and why we're headed there, I've had to delve into the past (Cutler, Myers, etc.). I trust that when you see Part Three it will all come together and you'll see why I've laid the background/foundation out like this.

      (Sidebar note: Cutler will be a pertinent topic of conversation for another decade at least, owing to the giant financial hole he helped the City dig, and all the questionable projects he led the City into...)

      This blog exists to serve as a forum for, well, like the mission statement says. Please understand when I say that my (off-line, real-world) position is one that would be severely unpleasant, to say the least, if I were to try to personally lead any sort of "charge" locally. But, since I'm in a position to hear a lot of things, and have a deep background on a lot of things, I'm doing what I can here.

      If anyone wants to use this blog as a place to plot and plan and schedule storming the castle, I will facilitate that 100%. That is my hope, frankly. Meanwhile, I will continue digging, and sharing...

    2. I don't see a lot of castle storming types in Port Angeles. Too many people have been abused by too many thugs for too many years to even consider speaking up or acting up now. The time for saving the ship is while it's still above water. Port Angeles sunk years ago.

    3. That's the spirit!

      And you wonder why the local "leadership" just keeps on doing what it wants?

    4. Anonymous 11:10PM...Pardon us for being cynical, but, do you have any examples to offer of how we have been able to change anything here?

      I was one of the dozens and dozens of people who sent emails and spoke at meetings to encourage the PA city council to endorse the Wild Olympics. They said they got a huge amount of messages on this issue, with something like 20 or 25 to 1 in favor of endorsing it. Endorsing the Wild Olympics wouldn't have cost the city a dime, AND it would have put them in line with all the feds higher up the food chain who were pushing it. AND it clearly had lots of mainstream local support. So what's not to like?

      Well, after all the public comment and effort, they wouldn't even consider it. Only Max Mania spoke in support of endorsement, and even Sissi fell back on the "we need to study this issue more" blah blah blah.

      So again, something that would have cost them nothing, that would have pleased the people higher up the food chain, and that would have pleased a majority of local citizens - and they wouldn't even consider it. We were there, we were real people - and they just cut us off, right to our faces.

      So, while I hate to sound so cynical, I really do, I don't see how that's not a sensible response to the behavior of our local elected officials here. They just don't get it, or they just don't care, or both. Whatever it is, I don't see the political dynamic here changing anytime soon.

      BUT - I am open to you offering up some sort of evidence of why we should be hopeful. I really am. Feel free to do so if you want, if you can. Until then, though, I have seen this community burned too many times to naively think change is coming right around the bend.

    5. @Anon 8:00

      Well, if we are relying on the City Council to be the agents of the change we want, as you seem to imply, then yes, forget it.

      But, I don't see it that way. The City Council is not the answer, it is the problem. Haven't we clearly established that, yet?

      Why would we put our desires for a different way of doing things in the hands of those that have created all the problems we rant on about??

      And, this applies up the political ladder.

      As said before, we need to form a citizens group, educate ourselves on the issues, focus more on events to educate the general public about what is going on in town, and show the average folks that there are others working actively for real change. The problems continue, because so few are actually involved. Most just whine, and do nothing. Or worse, do fragmented, isolated efforts like you describe, which serve to show people how hopeless doing anything really is.

      For any meaninful change to happen, the general public has to be educated, see the problems AND potential options for solutions, and give people a visible, tangible "big picture" view of what we're going to do. We have to attend ALL council meetings with many educated persons standing up at every opportunity and pointing out all the problems they are creating for the residents. Create events that challenge the current status quo. Put out press releases to regional media, clearly showing what is going on here.

      The media LOVES stories about citizens upset with government.

      As more and more events are highlighted and covered in the press, more people feel like there IS hope, and they can actually talk with others that are working actively to make things better.

      AFTER taking the time to build up a functional, active group, with clear goals and objectives, THEN you can think about running candidates. Candidates you continue to actively support at every council meeting, in visible numbers, and at the podium. When you get a majority on Council, then you fire the City Manager, City Attorrney, etc.. AND, stay involved.

      It IS possible. Been there, done that, and seen the enduring results.

    6. To the extent this blog supports and helps facilitate the process just outlined, I will stay engaged, and I suspect a lot of other people will as well. We can't just bitch here - it has to lead to action or we're just wasting our time. What is the next step?

    7. Anon 10:29AM
      hmmm. You make us wonder.

      What a shame that doesn't seem to be what's really behind Port Angeles Untied? Or is it? Certainly a single, significantly larger, well organized private sector business organization (representing a significant portion of the tax base) could be politically influential enough to run candidates and really shake up City Hall.

      Probably wishful thinking, since to be even remotely credible it would necessitate ridding themselves from the addiction of tax payer dollars, like the ones the directors lines up for to cover their nice plump salaries and benefits. Greedy buggers.

    8. As evidence to how much "education" is needed, and is helping, just look at what CK has done, right here! The more that gets exposed, the more interested in "change" people become.

      But, as we all know, this change is not coming via the PDN, or the City. Look just to all we have learned about Nippon and related issues, that has never been reported in the PDN, in years!

    9. As for the current City Council, the City Manager, the City Attorney and the Staff I say this: Off with their heads.

      I mean this rhetorically and not literally.

      How many seats on the city council come up for re-election this year? Next year?

    10. @Anon 3:47

      Build the citizens group, first. As tempting as it is to try to run candidates now, we all know there is no committed group to support them. Yet. The general public needs to hear what CK and others have been exposing. Work at the education part, first.

      We've made the mistake of running a candidate before the support was committed for them. People supported Max, Betsy and Sissi in getting elected, but once in office, they were largely left to fend for themselves, and they ended up doing the "go along the get along" route just to survive. We've seen THAT play out, too. We don't need to repeat that, and I doubt many thoughtful people will be willing to step up, and put through that.

      Patience. Build the solid foundation, before you start building the new house. Work on getting people educated, engaged and involved.

      Think through what the root issues are, and what specifically you want to see be different. That makes it easier to get others to join in efforts to change things. Even the goal of building a citizens group requires real definitions. See how many people you know are really interested in their community, and are interesterd in seeing things change for the better.

      Stay positive. Yes, current situation stinks, but together, we can clean things up, and enjoy the results. That is one of the messages to get people in their neighborhoods involved. As you know, it will take a while for a lot of people to come to see they really DO have "the power", after what they've been put through.

      Good weather is upon us. Good time for weekend block parties, and BBQs. Invite people you think would care, and start the conversations. See what the common concerns are. Share the information you're getting here, with others. Don't rush it, but be persistent.

      Becareful not to get mired in national/political rhetoric. This is all about making our community a better place. Each homeowner is an very real "investor" in this town, and has every right to be able to have their concerns and desires for the community considered.

      In one community, we created neignborhood associations to address very specific issues. That worked, too, as homeowners got to feel their very specific concerns got heard. On city wide issues we joined forces to demand as a unified force the council members could not ignore. Not quite as smooth as the city-wide citizens group, but it worked.

      First, build the foundation.

    11. Anon 10:29am
      Port Angeles United is all about getting all the tax money!
      The World is not enough.
      Why give up a good scam when it's already paying off?
      Just increase the take, and get even more.
      It's all about the (tax) money. Not about building political clout.
      Why mess with "City Hall" when they keep signing the paychecks?

  10. "Veolia Water North America, the contractor operating and maintaining the Elwha Water Treatment Plant, will use the road intermittently throughout the summer, the park said."


    "The plant treats the water before it gets to the city of Port Angeles water treatment plant and other users."

    May 13, 2013 PDN article

  11. If the city is stupid enough to only charge Nippon $15,000 a year for all that water, that's their stupid choice. What I object to is having to make up the difference in my enormously overpriced monthly utility bill. Even with conservation, even with weatherization, it costs SO MUCH to be a utility customer of the city.

    Unless you're Nippon, of course.

  12. You know...I used to hope that having a National Park right next to Port Angeles would be a good thing, a positive influence on the city. Lord knows the city could use some positive role modeling.

    But from things I've heard, and from what I'm reading here, it seems like the Park Service is just as bad as our local yahoos. They both like to spend too much money, they both like to keep the public from knowing what's going on...The dysfunction of Washington DC has never felt closer to home.

    1. The National Park Service has become thuggish, just like all the various "enforcement" government groups. FDA (and their raids on small full riot gear) -- the DEA, IRS, and Homeland Security all use storm trooper tactics. Seems our government is turning against us.

  13. Veolia is an anagram for A Evil O...

  14. that should be H2O

  15. Part Three will be posted a little later this weekend...Thank you for your patience...Stay tuned...

  16. Logged out here a few minutes ago, and went to read the news on the BBC and found this...Read to the end for a familiar name...

    "China water contamination affects 2.4m after oil leak

    China's biggest oil company has been blamed for water contamination affecting over 2.4 million people in Lanzhou.

    State media said the city's environmental protection chief, Yan Zijiang, blamed it on a leak from a pipeline owned by a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation.

    The pipeline is now being repaired.

    Lanzhou is the capital of north western Gansu province.

    Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., is the subsidiary of state-owned CNPC believed to own the affected pipeline.

    The leak tainted source water for a plant owned by Veolia Water, a joint Sino-French venture and the sole supplier for urban Lanzhou, reported state news agency Xinhua."