The Washington Department of Ecology has posted a series of photos, courtesy of the Port of Bellingham, showing various stages of the demolition of the mercury cell building, as well as historic photos of the building’s place within the former site of Bellingham’s Georgia-Pacific plant.
According to ecology officials, the cell building was part of the Georgia Pacific Chlor-Alkali plant that used a mercury-cell technology to make chlorine and sodium hydroxide (caustic). The chlorine and caustic were used in the pulp and paper production process and were sold for other commercial uses.
The Chlor-Alkali plant operated from 1965 through 1999 with the majority of the plant decommissioned by Georgia Pacific by 2002.
The building held the mercury cells which were large rectangular steel troughs that were sloped at a slight angle. Salt saturated brine flowed through the troughs along with liquid elemental mercury. An electric current generated chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide from the brine.