June 19, 2013, Dredging Today
The Port of Bellingham is proposing to divide the 74-acre Georgia Pacific West cleanup site on the Bellingham waterfront into two separate cleanup areas, so the northern half of the site can be cleaned, opened to the community and redeveloped sooner.
An in-depth environmental investigation shows that the soil and groundwater contamination is extensive across the site. It also shows that the contamination is found in two separate and distinct areas.
The contamination was left behind by Georgia-Pacific West, which operated a pulp-mill in the area for much of the 20th century.
The port now owns most of the land and has put considerable effort into probing and sampling the site as part of the step-by-step process required by the Washington Department of Ecology, which oversees the port’s cleanup work.
All the data gathered by the port is laid out and described in a formal report known as a remedial investigation. And Ecology is making the report available for public review and comment.
“With the contamination where it is on the site, we have a good opportunity to separate the site into two cleanup areas and advance cleanup and redevelopment on the northern portion,” said Brian Gouran, Port of Bellingham site manager.
On the northern end of the site where Georgia-Pacific West operated a pulp-and-tissue mill, the investigation found contaminants including metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, dioxins/furans and acidic soil.
Where a chlor-alkali plant operated on the southern portion of the site, the investigation found mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbons and alkaline soil.
Currently, the legal contract between the port and Ecology classifies the 74-acre site as one cleanup area.