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Bellingham mill cleanup getting pricier

Discovery of more mercury could add $1.4 million to cost

BELLINGHAM – More mercury than expected has been discovered in a small area of an old mill site in Bellingham, which could add up to $1.4 million to the environmental cleanup project’s cost.

The Bellingham Herald reported that Brian Gouran, environmental site manager for the Port of Bellingham, said the discovery of additional high mercury concentrations at the old Georgia-Pacific Corp. mill site means more tainted soil will have to be stabilized with cement and sulfur for packaging before shipment by truck to a landfill in Oregon.

Gouran said the port has state grant money as well as its own environmental insurance policy to provide the additional funds.

At their Tuesday meeting, port commissioners agreed to provide an additional $630,000 to Strider Construction Co. to process and dispose of the additional soil already discovered. They also authorized the spending of an additional $790,000 on Strider’s cleanup work, if necessary.

Gouran said he sought the additional $790,000 spending authorization at the April 16 meeting because port commissioners won’t meet for another three weeks, and he wanted to be able to pay the Strider crew to keep working if the amount of mercury disposal continues to exceed preliminary estimates. If that turns out not to be the case, that money need not be spent.

If all the additional money is needed, the cost of the current cleanup project would rise from the original contract amount of $1.8 million to about $3.2 million.


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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.