PIT TO PIER HISTORY AND TIMELINE
- The Shine Pit in Jefferson County, on a hill now overlooking the Hood Canal Bridge, began operation in 1959 as a temporary source of materials for construction of the bridge.
- Fred Hill Material (FHM) leased the Shine Pit from Pope Resources in 1979 and began the sand and gravel mining operations which continue today.
- The Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) granted FHM their first expansion at the Shine Pit in 1994.
- 1999 – 2000 Fred Hill Material quietly began design and development of the Pit to Pier proposal, to include a massive expansion of their mining area with the goal of supplying national and international markets beyond their traditional local market. The plan involves a mile long conveyor belt to bring material to the Shine processing hub and then transporting gravel over another 4 mile long conveyor belt to a 1000 foot long pier on the canal south of the bridge to be loaded to barges and ore ships. As an initial step FHM was granted an expansion of the Shine Pit to 144 acres. Further expansions have been granted in the ensuing years and the Shine Pit area is currently over 220 acres.
- In May of 2001 FHM representatives met with Governor Locke’s staff and permitting agencies including WDFW, DOE, and DNR to present their proposal with the request for fast track permitting in exchange for a reject sand donation to help restore beaches.
- On 8-06-01 FHM attorney Jim Tracy purchased the Hood Canal waterfront property currently designated as the site of the industrial pier. Through a series of transactions Tracy transferred the property to a FHM subsidiary on 2/8/02.
- Between 10-24-01 and 3-20-02, prior to public knowledge of the project, a series of meetings were held between FHM, Jefferson County DCD, the Corps of Engineers, and state and federal agencies to discuss a re-designation of uplands (as much as 20 to 40 thousand acres) necessary to feed the pit to pier project.
- On 4-9-2002 the Bremerton Sun broke the news story of the proposed pit to pier project. FHM held a community meeting to inform residents of the benefits of the pit to pier project including the creation of 12 to 20 jobs. Project Manager Dan Baskins made many misleading assertions regarding government, tribe and Navy support as well as environmental benefits.
- In April of 2002 a group of local citizens formed the Hood Canal Coalition (HCC) to oppose the FHM pit to pier project.
- On 4-30-02 FHM applied for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to designate an additional 6,240 acres of Pope commercial forest adjacent to the Shine Pit as a Mineral Resource Land Overlay (MRLO). Significant public opposition ensued.
- On 10-22-2002 FHM submitted a revised request for a 765 acre MRLO and the Jefferson County Planning Commission ultimately recommended a 690 acre MRLO with restrictive pit to pier conditions while denying any relationship between the MRLO and the pit to pier project
- On 12-9-2002 the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners approved the 690 acre MRLO with restrictive pit to pier conditions attached.
- On 2-21-03 the Hood Canal Coalition joined by 6 other organizations appealed the 690 acre MRLO decision granted by Jefferson County.
- On 6-24-03 the MRLO appeal filed by HCC was heard before the Western Washington Growth Management Hearing Board. After a long series of decisions and appeals at various levels the Court of Appeals final ruling was made on 11-09-2009 affirming the 690 acres MRLO granted by the county. Further appeals are not planned.
- In 2004 Congressman Norm Dicks expressed his opposition to the project and two of the Jefferson County Commissioners who had approved the 690 acre MRLO lost re-election.
- In December of 2004 FHM requested that DCD proceed with processing their March 2003 application for a 156 acre mine located in the Wahl Lake area of the 690 acre MRLO along with the pit to pier specific applications.
- On 1-26-2005 Jefferson County released a Request for Quote (RFQ) for the pit to pier EIS.
- On 3-30-2005 Jefferson County issued a Mitigated Determination of Non Significance (MDNS) for the 156 acre Wahl Lake mining request asserting that it posed no environmental threat and did not require an EIS or public comment. The MDNS finding set off a firestorm of protest from HCC, the public, state agencies, the tribes and environmental groups. As a result DCD accepted public comment.
- On 7-18-05 DCD restricted the MDNS determination to only 39 acres of the 156 acres originally requested for the new mine.
- In May of 2006 Jefferson County selected Wheeler Consulting Group to complete the pit to pier EIS. However FHM opposed Wheeler and derailed that selection.
- On 7-16-07, after a long contentious negotiation, Jefferson County approved a contract with GeoEngineers Inc. to conduct the pit to pier EIS. The contract requires FHM to pay for the consultants work.
- On 9-27-2007 Jefferson County held a public EIS scoping meeting to help outline the content of the future environmental impact statement. Many organizations and individuals provided input to the county and their consultant, GeoEngineers. The Draft EIS has proceeded very slowly in part due to FHM’s delinquent payments for work done. As of January 2010 the Draft EIS has not been completed as FHM seeks investment assistance for their project.
- From 2001 through 2009 FHM has made multiple attempts in the state legislature to pass legislation that would weaken the EIS process and/or eliminate Jefferson County’s participation. Most recently was an attempt in 2009 to have pit to pier designated as a Project of Statewide Significance to allow fast tract permitting. Jefferson County Commissioners refused to endorse the designation thereby defeating it
- On 5-1-09 FHM sold its Shine Pit mining operation to Miles Sand and Gravel for an undisclosed amount and terminated 18 employees. The sale included FHM’s processing, recycling, and reclamation operations and mining equipment. FHM retained the pit to pier application and has stated their intent to complete the EIS and pursue the necessary permits to construct the project.
- In August of 2009 a smaller but similar pit to pier project on Maury Island in southern Puget Sound was halted by a U.S. District Court ruling citing failure to adequately evaluate cumulative impacts on the entire Puget Sound ecosystem, thus establishing a new standard by which to measure FHM’s EIS.
- On 8-31-09, after a series of lawsuits, the Teamsters Union filed an involuntary chapter 7 bankruptcy against FHM for failure to make mandatory employee benefit and retirement payments in violation of union contract and federal statutes. Some of these suits have been settled by summary judgments against FHM while others are pending. In some cases the court has issued writs of garnishment against FHM’s bank in order to secure court ordered payments.
- On 9-21-2009 the involuntary bankruptcy was dismissed after FHM began making some payments. However several active lawsuits remain.
- In September of 2009 FHM established a new company to pursue the pit to pier effort. This new company named Thorndyke Resource Operating Company (TROC) attempted to sell a 25% interest to Athabasca Minerals Inc., a large Canadian aggregate and mineral company, but the deal fell through in January 2010.
- In December of 2009 Jefferson County approved a new Shoreline Master Program (SMP) that will protect Jefferson County shoreline from future mining operations including proposals like the pit to pier project. Unfortunately the current FHM (TROC) pit to pier proposal is grandfathered under the old and less restrictive statutes.
- As of January 2010 the Draft EIS for the pit to pier project is still underway and FHM is expected to take another 1 to 2 years while they seek investment assistance.