Mercury to be removed from Bellingham's central waterfront

Contractor crews will begin removing pockets of mercury contamination at the former Georgia-Pacific mill site on Bellingham’s waterfront next month.

The work will be handled by Strider Construction of Bellingham, which was hired by the Port of Bellingham. The port is working with the Washington Department of Ecology under the laws of the Model Toxic Control Act to clean up a small portion of the G-P site.

Mercury is a concern because it is toxic and gets into the food chain, according to ecology officials.

Approximately 500 tons of soil contaminated with elemental mercury will be dug out of the site. The soil will be mixed with sulfur and cement and turned into concrete blocks, then transferred to a permitted hazardous waste landfill.

Much of the work will be completed within an enclosed building to ensure mercury vapors are contained and treated, according to the ecology department.

Mercury was used by the Georgia-Pacific company during operations at the former pulp mill. The chemical element was used during the pulping process to create chlorine and sodium-hydroxide.

Crews also plan to demolish G-P’s old mercury cell building. All work is expected to be complete by May.

More information on clean-up plans for the site is available at the ecology department’s website.

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