South State Street MGP

Aerial view of South State Street MGP cleanup site Upland and Marine Units located along South State Street in Bellingham.
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Last Updated October, 2018

Environmental report ready for public review

Comment Period:  October 8 - November 6, 2018
Public Meeting:  October 30; 6-8 pm; Bellingham City Hall; Download Presentation

The Department of Ecology invites you to COMMENT on an environmental report for the South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant cleanup site in Bellingham. The report, called a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS):

  • Describes contamination found at the Site.
  • Evaluates cleanup alternatives.
  • Identifies a preferred cleanup alternative.
The City of Bellingham (City) and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) prepared the report with Ecology oversight.

The contamination is from a former manufactured gas plant and other historic operations located at the north end of Boulevard Park located on Bellingham Bay, which includes both upland and marine areas. The contaminant levels are potentially harmful and must be addressed under Washington’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act.

The remedial investigation/feasibility study report is available for review and comment October 8 - November 6, 2018. 

To view a Fact Sheet providing a general overview of the report, or the report itself, click below or visit one of the document repository locations listed to the right:

Online Comments:  Please submit comments through Ecology’s Online Comment Form or email the Site Manager (see contact information at the right).

Public Meeting:  Ecology held a public meeting on October 30, 2018 to provide more information and collect comments. Click here to view the presentation.


The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA; Chapter 70.105D RCW) is Washington’s environmental cleanup law. It provides requirements for contaminated site cleanup and sets standards that protect human health and the environment. Ecology enacts the MTCA and oversees cleanups. The MTCA site cleanup process is completed in steps (see graphic below) over a variable timeline.

Please click on the photo for a larger view


  • October 8 - November 6, 2018:  30-day public comment period.
  • October 30, 2018:  Public meeting.
  • Late 2018:  Finalize the environmental report. Ecology will review and consider all comments received as we finalize the remedial investigation/feasibility study report. We will provide a written response to comments received.
  • 2019:  Select cleanup action.  Based on the information in the final remedial investigation/feasibility study report, Ecology will select a cleanup action for the South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant site. We will issue our cleanup action plan and an associated legal agreement for public review. The legal agreement will require the City, PSE, and possibly others, to design and implement the cleanup action.
  • 2020:  Complete design and permitting for the cleanup action. 
  • 2021:  Begin implementing the cleanup action.


Current South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant cleanup site Public Participation Plan

This plan includes information for the public regarding opportunities to get involved in the cleanup process. The outreach activities and mechanisms presented reflect Ecology’s current plans for keeping the public informed and for receiving information and comments from the public.

South State Street MGP site (and north end of Boulevard Park), facing west, September 2018
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Site History 
The South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant site is about 6 acres at the north end of Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Portions of the property at South State Street near Bay View Drive are contaminated where a manufactured gas plant operated from the 1890s to the 1950s. The plant made home heating and cooking fuel from coal. Other potential sources of contamination also include historic railroad and lumber mill operations. The only remaining visible gas plant structures are a concrete gas-holding tank (JPEG 660 KB) and a small brick building (JPEG 1.6 MB) near South State Street.

Bellingham Bay Gas Co., a predecessor to Puget Sound Energy, was the first operator of the plant. Cascade Natural Gas bought and continued to operate the plant in the 1950s. Residential developers bought the plant property in the 1960s. The city of Bellingham acquired most of the gas plant property in 1975 for use as a park. The state and BNSF Railway Co. also own portions of the contaminated area.

An agreed order (legal agreement) in 2010 between Ecology, the City, and PSE requires the City and PSE to investigate contamination (remedial investigation) evaluate cleanup alternatives (feasibility study), and prepare a report of their findings. The legal agreement also includes provisions to take early cleanup actions if necessary.

The investigation conducted by the City and PSE found contamination from a former gas plant and possibly other historical operations. Contaminants were found in soil, groundwater, and sediment above state standards established to protect human health and the environment. Contaminants include:

  • carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs)
  • benzene
  • naphthalene
  • cyanide
  • selenium
  • lead
Early Cleanup Action (Interim Action)
Historically, marine forces and storms caused shoreline erosion and damage to a public pier. This triggered the need for an early cleanup action to prevent further shoreline erosion and potential exposure to and movement of contaminated soil. The early action, called an interim action, was completed in October 2017.  The interim action:  
  • Removed creosote-treated piles and a wood deck.
  • Stabilized an existing concrete bulkhead.
  • Stabilized approximately 450 linear feet of shoreline with rock.
Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant site is one of 12 sites coordinated through the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot. The Pilot is a bay-wide multi-agency effort to clean up contaminated sediment, control sources of sediment contamination, and restore habitat, with consideration for land and water uses. In 2000, participants in this initiative developed the Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy.






Map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA SITE INFORMATION


View Electronic Documents

Site Summary Report

Facility Site ID: # 2865

Cleanup Site ID: 4606

Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

John Guenther
Project Manager
(360) 255-4381

Ian Fawley
Public Involvement Coordinator
(360) 255-4382

Lucy McInerney
Project Lead
(425) 649-7272

Document Repositories:

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

Ecology Bellingham Field Office
913 Squalicum Way, Unit 101
Bellingham, 98225

Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave
Bellingham, 98227