Tough new standards for disposal of dioxin-tainted sediments may make some environmental cleanup projects here and elsewhere a lot more expensive, but state and federal agencies say the standards are needed to project marine life and the health of humans.
Dioxins are a group of chemicals released by everything from wood stoves to pulp mills. They have been linked to cancer and other ailments even in tiny concentrations, and they have a nasty way of accumulating in living creatures.
In Bellingham Bay, dioxins as well as mercury discharged by the old Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp mill have been found in some sediments, and plans to remove some of those sediments and cap the rest have been years in the making. The goal is to keep the harmful substances from finding their way into fish, crabs, shellfish, clams and the people who eat them.
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