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Finding treasure in The Dalles

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

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THE DALLES What started out as a vast demolition project has turned into an impromptu treasure hunt. Not gold coins or lost royal jewels, but instead precious metals from what was considered mostly scrap and junk.

As the Northwest Aluminum factory demolition began last June, workers began discovering a cache of riches. Unknown to workers and the owner of the approximately 200-acre site, Golden Northwest, the plant’s 300 smelters were brimming with 4 million pounds of melted aluminum worth about $1 per pound, according to Galen May, who is overseeing the demolition for Golden Northwest.

They also found 32 pounds of silver worth $6,000 lined in switchgears, 10 ounces of platinum worth $16,000, and valuable scrap steel and copper.

The $7 million in recovered metals is just about enough to cover the cost of the entire demolition project, May says.

“We’ve done pretty good,” he says.

Opened in 1958, the plant at its peak employed 550 people. It was closed in 2000. The site is being cleared to make way for other businesses. Google’s new server facility in the area depleted all the town’s available industrial-zoned land says Andrea Klaas, executive director of the Port of The Dalles.

May says the demolition project should be completed by the end of the year.

JASON SHUFFLER



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