Department of Ecology News Release - March 5, 2013

13-063

Agreement jump starts investigation of contamination in Blaine Harbor

BELLINGHAM – Plans to investigate the extent of contamination in Blaine Harbor from past industrial work are moving forward with a legal agreement between the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the Port of Bellingham.

The specific area of focus is the Westman Marine cleanup site in the southeastern portion of the Blaine Harbor industrial area. The site is located near the end of Marine Drive, off of McMillan Avenue. It includes land and water areas.

The industrial area has been used as a boat and shipyard since the 1940s. Investigations in 2001 by the port, which owns most of the property, found levels of tributylin and copper that do not meet state standards. Those investigations were limited to sediments near the surface of land, not deeper layers.

Not enough is known about the extent of contamination in the harbor. The port intends to redevelop the site in the future, which is why Ecology has entered into an agreement with the port to explore further.

The legal agreement requires the port to investigate contamination, analyze possible cleanup options, and develop a draft cleanup plan.

Ecology invites the public to review and comment on the proposed legal agreement between March 6 and April 5, 2013.

The agreement can be reviewed on Ecology’s Westman Marine web page, at the Bellingham Public Library, or Ecology offices in Bellingham and Bellevue.

 Comments can be submitted to Jing Liu, Ecology site manager, at jing.liu@ecy.wa.gov or the  Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98008. Ecology will review and consider all comments, and the agreement may be modified based upon comments received.

During several site visits in the 1990s when Westman Marine leased the property, Ecology inspectors reported evidence of numerous minor spills on the ground. At the time, Westman Marine was listed as a small-quantity generator of hazardous material during its operations.

Contamination found at other historic boatyards throughout Puget Sound typically include heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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Media contacts:

Seth Preston, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 cell; seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)