Cornwall Avenue Landfill

Aerial view of the Conrwall Ave Landfill cleanup site
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Ecology formally recorded a Consent Decree for cleanup of the Cornwall Avenue Landfill in the Whatcom County Superior Court on December 2, 2014. Since then, Ecology has been working with the Port of Bellingham, the City of Bellingham, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources to implement the cleanup. 
The Consent Decree, including the Cleanup Action Plan, addresses two areas of the site, an upland portion and a shoreline/shallow-water portion. A third deeper-water portion of the site will be addressed under a future amendment to the consent decree and cleanup action plan.
The first implementation step was an additional field investigation to support engineering design.  The scope of work was detailed in an April 30, 2015 Work Plan, and the field work was completed by the end of August, 2015.
The second step was to begin engineering design.  This work started in early 2015, and is ongoing.  An initial draft of the Engineering Design Report (EDR) is expected in early 2016.  The public will be invited to review and comment on the EDR before it is finalized.
Preparation of the EDR for Cornwall is continuing to consider the adjoining RG Haley site.  Close coordination of the two cleanups is necessary to assure protection of human health and the environment.



  • 2015 – Work on engineering design report
  • 2016 – Complete engineering design report. Obtain construction permits
  • 2017 – Begin upland cleanup construction
  • 2018 – Begin shoreline and in-water construction



The Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup site is located on the Bellingham waterfront between Boulevard Park and the former Georgia Pacific pulp mill, and is most recognizable today for the large mounds covered with white plastic. It's at the south end of Cornwall Avenue. About 13 acres of the site are on land, and about 3.5 acres are in water.

  • 1888-1946: The site was used for sawmill operations, including log storage and wood disposal.
  • 1954-1965: The site was used as a municipal waste landfill.
  • 1965: Closure of the landfill; the site was covered with a layer of soil.
  • 1971 to 2005: The site was used for log storage and warehousing operations.
  • 2011: An interim cleanup action was conducted at the site.

Environmental investigations
The site investigation found an estimated 295,000 cubic yards of municipal waste and 94,000 cubic yards of wood waste. Some of the contamination associated with this waste includes:

  • Groundwater contamination:  tannins and lignins associated with wood waste breakdown products; elevated nitrogen compounds like ammonia; elevated dissolved metals like manganese; and volatile organics like benzene in the ground water.
  • Sediment contamination:  phthalates, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), phenols, and diesel and oil-range petroleum hydrocarbons in the sediment.
  • Contamination from neighboring sites:  contamination from two neighboring cleanup sites overlaps with contamination at the Cornwall site. Petroleum hydrocarbons, pentachlorophenol, carcinogenic PAHs, and other contaminants associated with former wood treating operations at the adjacent R.G. Haley site are present in the soil, sediment and groundwater. And mercury associated with the Whatcom Waterway site is present in the sediment. 


The Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup 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.



Map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA SITE INFORMATION


View Electronic Documents

Site Summary Report

Facility Site ID: # 2913

Cleanup Site ID: 220

Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

Mark Adams
Site Manager
(425) 649-7107

Brad Petrovich
Public Involvement Coordinator
(425) 649-4486

Lucy McInerney
Project Lead
(425) 649-7272

Document Repositories:

Northwest Regional Office
3190 160th Ave SE
Bellevue, 98008-5452

Ecology Bellingham Field Office
1440 10th Street Suite 102
Bellingham, 98225

Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave
Bellingham, 98227