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Port signs deal with company that will ship timber to Asia

The Bellingham Shipping Terminal is pictured on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 in Bellingham. The Port of Bellingham signed a lease with a company that will ship timber out of the terminal to Asia.
The Bellingham Shipping Terminal is pictured on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 in Bellingham. The Port of Bellingham signed a lease with a company that will ship timber out of the terminal to Asia. eabell@bhamherald.com

The waterfront will be seeing more shipping export activity in the form of timber.

The Port of Bellingham announced Wednesday that it had signed a lease with GrandCamp International LLC to export logs from this area to Asia through the Bellingham Shipping Terminal. The 5-year lease includes 5 acres of property and up to 7 acres of optional water area near the shipping terminal. Trucks loaded with logs will enter the area from Cornwall Avenue and store the logs on open land, with the option of some of the logs being put in the water.

The number of logs to be shipped through the terminal will be determined by demand. When asked for an estimate at a Port of Bellingham commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, GrandCamp Managing Member Steve Grandorff said filling a typical ship would take between 1,200 and 1,400 truckloads, with a ship arriving every two or three months. The plan is to fill a ship with up to 38,000 tons of timber, but there could be situations where a partial load is taken on at the terminal. At the commission meeting, Grandorff said he’s hoping to get started within the next 10 days.

The deal will provide work for local longshoremen in terms of loading the timber onto the ships. According to a Port of Bellingham news release, it will provide work for 36 longshoremen, who will take around seven days to load a ship. In addition to the longshoremen jobs, Grandorff said GrandCamp anticipates hiring equipment operators, scalers, truck drivers and administrative personnel. How many will be determined by supply, he said in an email. The company plans to open a Bellingham office; GrandCamp currently has an office in Elma.

The lease rate over the 5-year period is just under $300,000. If regular quarterly shipments are done, the port estimates that cargo revenue could reach $2.7 million during that period.

The Port of Bellingham has made investments in the Bellingham Shipping Terminal in recent years to attract new business to the waterfront. Recent upgrades include a new bulkhead and stormwater and power improvements, as well as work done to nearby warehouses.

Last fall the port was working with Grandorff on other export projects, including possibly wood pellets or other biofuel materials. Grandorff said this is a separate project that focuses on log exports. The logs will come from nearby counties as well as Whatcom.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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