Washington State Department of Ecology - June 18, 2013

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Report details contamination across 74 acres of Bellingham waterfront
Port of Bellingham looks to divide site and advance cleanup, redevelopment

BELLINGHAM – 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.

In order to divide the site, Ecology and the port have to amend their legal agreement – known as an agreed order – to define two cleanup areas. Ecology is making the proposed amendment available for public review and comment.

Those interested in reviewing the draft remedial investigation report and the proposed amendment to the agreed order can find them on Ecology’s website, at offices in Bellingham and Bellevue, and at the Bellingham Public Library.

Comments can be submitted June 18 through July 17 to Ecology site manager Brian Sato at brian.sato@ecy.wa.gov or 3190 160th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98008.

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Media Contacts:

Dustin Terpening, Ecology media relations, @ecynorth, 360-715-5205, dustin.terpening@ecy.wa.gov

Carolyn Casey, Port of Bellingham media relations, 360-676-2500, carolync@portofbellingham.com

For more information:

Project website (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=2279)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)