Port of Bellingham signs new timber export deal

By BBJ Staff

The Bellingham Port Commission has authorized a new deal to once again get goods moving out of the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.

The Port of Bellingham announced last month that it signed a harbor land lease with the company GrandCamp International for 5 acres of property near the shipping terminal.

The company will use the site to export and import timber.

Initially, the company plans to export round logs to Asia.

The logs will come from Whatcom County, as well as other nearby areas (possibly including Canada).

Trucks loaded with logs will come on to the waterfront from Cornwall Avenue.

The logs will be debarked and staged on the property.

The bark will be trucked back out.

Included in the lease, GrandCamp also has the option to use up to 7 acres of area in the water to store logs as well.

It will take between 1,200 and 1,400 truckloads to fill one ship, GrandCamp Managing Member Steve Grandorff told port commissioners at a Jan. 3 meeting.

The idea is for one ship to arrive every two to three months depending on local supply and customer demand.

One ship can carry up to 38,000 tons of timber.

Once a ship arrives, crews of longshoremen will spend about a week loading the logs on the ship.

The deal provides work for 36 longshoremen, according to a Port press release.

“Our company is excited about the opportunity to be involved with the Port of Bellingham and have access to international and domestic markets for the distribution and receipt of forest products,” Grandorff said in press release.

“With the Shipping Terminal’s well-developed infrastructure, access to resources via rail, barge, rafts, trucks, containers and ocean-going vessels; we believe the synergies between our company and the Port will encourage growth, a new outlet for fiber to the local and regional community, and open a gateway for international products.”

The lease was set to start Feb. 1.

It runs for five years, with the option to renew it for five more years.

The lease rate is nearly $300,000 for the whole five years.

If shipments go out as predicted, revenue from the cargo is estimated to bring in an additional $2.8 million over five years.

“Reactivating the Shipping Terminal in support of working waterfront jobs has been a high priority for the Port of Bellingham,” Port Commission President Dan Robbins said.

“The Port has made significant investments to modernize this facility and it is terrific to see renewed interest from the maritime community in shipping cargo from the Shipping Terminal.”

The last time the shipping terminal was active regularly was in 2000, when Georgia Pacific still operated a pulp mill at the waterfront.

Since the mill closed down, there has only been intermittent shipping activity there.

Over the past few years, the Port has made significant improvements to the shipping terminal to encourage new business.

Upgrades include a new bulkhead, improved warehouse roofs, and renovation of the stormwater and power systems.

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