Central Waterfront Cleanup proposed for on Bellingham waterfront
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comment on a proposal to remove old petroleum contamination from a small area (see below photo) of the Central Waterfront cleanup site on the downtown Bellingham waterfront.
In February 2012, Ecology and Port of Bellingham site managers discovered an oily sheen on Whatcom Waterway. They determined that a failing bulkhead near the south end of C Street is allowing water at high tide to saturate the shoreline and draw out the historical contamination.
Ecology, the port and the city of Bellingham are proposing an interim action in early 2013 that is intended to stop further releases of petroleum. Crews would remove about 800 cubic yards of petroleum contaminated soil and sediment from an area smaller than 5,000 square feet. They would rebuild the shoreline and install a barrier into the soil inland of the excavated area to prevent recontamination.
The proposed interim action is described in an amendment (PDF) to a 2006 legal agreement (PDF) among Ecology, the port and the city. The amendment is available for public review and comment.
The interim action will cost an estimated $500,000. Ecology will reimburse up to half the port and city’s costs for the interim action. Reimbursements come from the state’s remedial action grant program, which helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites. The state Legislature funds the grant program with revenues from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.
The interim action area is part of the 55-acre Central Waterfront cleanup site west of Roeder Avenue, between I & J Waterway and Whatcom Waterway. A variety of industrial operations have taken place at the site, including a municipal landfill, a rock-crushing plant, a boatyard and a bulk fuel storage and distribution facility.
Investigations of the site so far have found solid waste, landfill gases, metals and petroleum related compounds resulting from these past industrial activities. This contamination must be addressed under the state’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act.
During the interim action, work would continue on an environmental investigation of the full site (called a remedial investigation), and an analysis of cleanup options (called a feasibility study). Ecology expects to release a draft remedial investigation and feasibility study report for public review in 2013.
The Central Waterfront site is one of 12 cleanup sites in the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot, a coordinated, bay-wide effort by federal, tribal, state and local governments to clean up contamination, control pollution sources and restore habitat, with consideration for land and water uses. The pilot program is a major step toward restoring Puget Sound, and it is a model for other large-scale cleanup initiatives.
Comments accepted July 17 through Aug. 15, 2012. Submit public comments to:
Brian Sato, site manager Washington Department of Ecology 3190 160th Ave. SE Bellevue, WA 98008-5452 email@example.com