Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the matter of compliance by Georgia Pacific Corporation

Who's afraid of 12 tons of mercury buried in close proximity to proposed schools, retail office space and condos? Certainly not the people who live and work in Bellingham!


Department of Ecology

IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLIANCE BY GEORGIA PACIFIC CORPORATION with Chapter 90.48 RCW and the Rules and Regulations of the Department of Ecology

To: Georgia Pacific Corporation:

Order Docket # DE 77-336

Mercury contaminated chemfix sludge material was deposited by the Georgia Pacific Corporation during July 1976 in a landfill improvised on the woodyard of their pulp mill in Bellingham.

The chemfix project was carried out, without notification to the Department of Ecology, as a means of disposing of approximately 1,5000,000 gallons of mixed liquid and solid wastes that had accumulated in a storage pond of the Chlorine Plant. With a mercury concentration of about 0.17 percent, the 7,000 ton sludge deposit contains approximately 12 tons of mercury.

Order docket No. DE 77-168 was issued by the Department of Ecology on March 2, 1977, requesting information from Georgia Pacific on measures taken to prevent mercury pollution of state waters from the sludge deposit. The Georgia Pacific response, dated April 5, 1977, to Docket No. DE 77-168 stated that the sludge deposit was on a fill site constructed behind an impervious dike in accordance with Army Corps of Engineers Permit No. 071-OYB-1-001695. A review of this permit shows that the dike is described as an earthen berm comprised of upland fill material, with no statement regarding dike permeability, and no statement regarding utilization of the fill project as a disposal site for mercury wastes.

In consideration of the above information, it is determined by the Department of Ecology that additional measures are required to insure that the chemfix sludge material or leachates from the material do not enter state waters.

RCW 90.48.120 reads in part: Whenever the Department deems immediate action is necessary to accomplish the purpose of Chapter 90.48 RCW, it may issue such order or directive, as appropriate under the circumstances.

In view of the foregoing and in accordance with the provisions of RCW 90.48.120(2):

IT IS ORDERED THAT Georgia-Pacific Corporation shall, upon receipt of this Order, take appropriate action not later than October 31, 1977 either transport the chemfix sludge deposit to a disposal site acceptable to teh Department of Ecology, such as the site operated by Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc. near Arlington, Oregon, or construct and maintain an impervious covering over the chemfix sludge deposit in accordance with teh following requirements:

1. Submit engineering plans for the project, including a legal description of the property occupied by the chemfix sludge deposit, to the Department of Ecology for approval by July 31, 1977. The covering shall be constructed of either asphalt or concrete pavement. If asphalt is used, the surface over the chemfix deposit, including a 10 -foot border extension on all sides, shall be covered with an impervious plastic liner overlaid with sand prior to paving. The asphalt pavement shall extend at least 20 feet beyond the sludge deposit on the side toward the log pond and shall extend to join with existing paved surfaces on the other three sides. If concrete is used, either the surface area described above shall be paved or the surface over the chemfix deposit, including a 10-foot border extension on all sides, shall be paved and joined to a concrete footing wall constructed around the deposit to a depth of six feet.

2. The completed project shall be continually maintained as required to retain the impervious condition of the covering. No future project involving excavation or degradion of the covering shall be undertaken without written approval of the Department of Ecology.

Dated at Olympia, Washington, this (28th) day of June, 1977.


Donald O Provosot
Assistant Director of Ecology

Comparisons to other well-known conatmination sites:

ABC News - Love Canal's Lethal Legacy: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5553393&page=1

New York State Dept of Health reports: http://www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/investigations/love_canal/

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