Cleanup work starts at Georgia-Pacific waterfront site

The first phase of environmental cleanup of the former Georgia-Pacific waterfront site started Monday Nov. 7.

Workers from Strider Construction of Bellingham will be removing an estimated 8,000 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil and debris from the northeast end of the site. The soil will be taken to a licensed facility for disposal and contaminated groundwater will be treated and disposed of in the industrial wastewater treatment lagoon.

The project is expected to take about two months, said Brian Gouran, environmental site project manager for the Port of Bellingham

This first phase of the cleanup will cost about $1 million, though the state Department of Ecology, which is overseeing the work, will reimburse up to half of the port’s cost. Reimbursements come from the state’s remedial action grant program, which helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites. The state Legislature funds the grant program with revenues from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

In the spring of 2012, the port will start the second phase of work. During that phase, workers will remove an estimated 400 to 500 tons of mercury-contaminated soil and debris, and demolish a building that contains contaminated materials in what is called the caustic plume area at the west end of the site. Mercury was used in this area in the production of chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide.

Both of these projects are part of the ongoing comprehensive environmental study and analysis of cleanup options for the entire site. The DOE expects to release those final reports for public comment in 2012.

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