Washington State Department of Ecology - October 28, 2013

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Work begins to contain oil seep on Bellingham waterfront

BELLINGHAM – Work begins this week to contain oil intermittently seeping from the shoreline of a cleanup site on the Bellingham waterfront.

The city of Bellingham hired contractor Interwest Construction of Burlington to place a specially amended layer of sand and clay over the oil seep. The clay/sand layer will be placed within a rock berm and covered with a layer of gravel to protect it from winter storms.

The seep has intermittently left an oil sheen on Bellingham Bay since December 2012. Since it was first discovered, the city has maintained a boom and absorbent pads to catch and contain the oil.

The oil is seeping from a small area of shoreline at the R.G. Haley cleanup site, which is known to be contaminated with wood treatment chemicals from past industrial activities. The site is located southwest of the intersection of Cornwall Avenue and Wharf Street.

Crews will cover approximately a 5,000-square-foot area of the shoreline with the clay/sand layer to absorb oil seeping out.

Much of the shoreline work will be done at night in November when tides are expected to be lowest. Work is expected to finish by the end of November.

This is an interim project – a temporary fix – designed to contain the oil until the site-wide cleanup begins in 2015.

The city awarded the construction contract to Interwest for $88,514.41. The total project cost – including design, permitting, materials, and construction – is approximately $400,000.

The Washington Department of Ecology is overseeing the work, and will reimburse half of the city’s costs through the state’s Remedial Action Grant program. The program helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites and is funded with revenue from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

While Ecology hasn’t tested the oil seeping out, extensive information is available about contamination within the cleanup site. Past testing shows there are chemicals in the soil and groundwater, which include petroleum hydrocarbons, pentachlorophenol (PCP), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and dioxins and furans.

From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, the site was used for industries including lumber, coal and wharf operations. Various companies have treated wood on the property.

The city of Bellingham owns most of the contaminated land and plans to build a park there. The city has a legal agreement with the state, known as an agreed order, to investigate the contamination, as well as identify and evaluate long-term cleanup options.

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Media Contacts:
 Dustin Terpening, 360-715-5205, dustin.terpening@ecy.wa.gov, or @ecynorth
 Janice Keller, city of Bellingham communications manager, 360-778-8110 or jkeller@cob.org


For more information:

Photos (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjEYhNZs)
Project website (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=3928)
Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)