Georgia Pacific vs Bellingham Washington

See how another community dealt with their industrial waste with Georgia Pacific and a closure of a paper mill.

Where are we today?

Georgia-Pacific West cleanup site History
The approximately 74-acre Georgia-Pacific West cleanup site is located at 300 West Laurel Street, on the south side of Whatcom Waterway, in Bellingham. A pulp and tissue mill operated at the site from 1926 through 2007.  The Port of Bellingham acquired property within the site from Georgia-Pacific Corporation in January 2005, and plans to use the property for commercial, retail, and residential purposes.

Environmental investigations of the site showed contamination in two separate and distinct areas.  As a result, in 2013, the port and Ecology agreed to divide the site into two separate cleanup areas to expedite cleanup and support redevelopment.  The two areas are known as the Pulp and Tissue Mill area and the Chlor-Alkali area. 

In 2011 and 2013, interim cleanup actions were conducted to remove contaminated soils and building materials from the site.  The cleanup of the Pulp and Tissue Mill area was completed in 2016.

Contamination
Pulp and Tissue Mill Area (38 acres) contamination addressed (cleanup completed in 2016):
• metals
• low pH
• petroleum hydrocarbons
• volatile organic compounds
• dioxins/furans

Chlor-Alkali Area (36 acres) contaminates include:
• mercury
• high pH (caustic)
• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
• petroleum hydrocarbons

Contaminant levels within the Chlor-Alkali Area are present at potentially harmful levels and must be addressed under Washington’s toxics cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).

Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The Georgia Pacific West site is one of 12 sites coordinated through the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot.  The Pilot is a bay-wide multi-agency effort to clean up contaminated sediment, control sources of sediment contamination, and restore habitat, with consideration for land and water uses. In 2000, participants in this initiative developed the Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy.

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