WHATCOM WATERWAY

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SITE STATUS - JUNE 2016

Phase 1 cleanup work ends and testing begins
 
In July 2015, the Port of Bellingham, with Ecology oversight, began construction activities to address contaminated sediment within Phase 1 areas of the Whatcom Waterway site. The work is complete and included:

  • Removing 111,446 cubic yards of contaminated sediment
  • Removing 9,962 tons of soil and 265 tons of creosote-treated timber
  • Removing 5,146 tons of concrete and asphalt rubble (over 98% was reused or recycled)
  • Isolating contaminated sediment with 102,950 cubic yards of clean material
  • Installing 36,600 square feet of sheet pile walls on the north side of the waterway to support the upland and prevent contaminated groundwater from entering the waterway

    View a time lapse video of some of the work.

To ensure the completed cleanup protects human health and the environment in the long term, scientists will conduct regular testing of sediment, crabs and clams for contaminants.  This testing has begun and will continue for up to 30 years.   


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SITE DESCRIPTION

The Whatcom Waterway site is more than 200 acres in Bellingham Bay along the downtown Bellingham waterfront. The site includes underwater land and a former industrial waste treatment lagoon.

Contamination at the site is the result of operations at the former Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper plant.

G-P used mercury in its chlor-alkali plant to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide for bleaching and pulping wood fiber. Wastewater containing mercury was discharged directly into Bellingham Bay from 1965 to 1971. G-P installed treatment measures that reduced mercury releases to the bay until 1979. Construction of an industrial waste treatment lagoon (sometimes referred to as an aerated stabilization basin, or ASB), halted discharges of untreated wastewater from the chlor-alkali plant to the bay in 1979. The G-P pulp mill closed in 2001.

Also in 2001, as an interim measure, G-P cleaned up sediment and restored habitat in the log pond portion of the site with Ecology oversight.

Key contaminants include mercury and phenolic compounds. These contaminants are in concentrations that exceed standards established under the state's cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act, and must be addressed.

In 2005, the Port of Bellingham acquired 137 acres of waterfront property from G-P, including property within the Whatcom Waterway site, accepting lead responsibility for cleaning up the site with Ecology oversight. Other parties involved include the city of Bellingham, state Department of Natural Resources and a private company, Meridian-Pacific LLC, which owns waterfront property within the site.

The Whatcom Waterway site is one of 12 cleanup sites in the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot project, 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 work is informed by the Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy, completed by the pilot work group in 2000.


RECENT DOCUMENTS



NEXT STEPS

Timeline:

  • December 2016 – Complete Institutional Controls Plan and As-Built report for Phase 1 work
  • 2017 - Public review of draft engineering design report for Phase 2 Areas of the site


FUNDING

Ecology oversees all cleanup work and is tasked with ensuring that the requirements of the state cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act, and the requirements of site-specific legal agreements are met.

The port is eligible for reimbursement by Ecology for up to half the costs for work performed under the consent decree. 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 tax on hazardous substances.


RELATED CLEANUP SITES


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA SITE INFORMATION

Map

View Electronic Documents

Site Summary Report

Facility Site ID: # 2899

Cleanup Site ID: 219

Location:
Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

Contacts:
Lucy McInerney
Site Manager
(425) 649-7272

Krista Kenner
Public Involvement Coordinator
(360) 715-5205


Document Repositories:

Northwest Regional Office
3190 160th Ave SE
Bellevue, 98008-5452
(425)649-7190

Ecology Bellingham Field Office
1440 10th Street Suite 102
Bellingham, 98225
(360)715-5200

Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave
Bellingham, 98227
(360)778-7323