Department of Ecology News Release - August 21, 2015

Cleanup report for future Bellingham park ready for review
Public comment period begins Aug. 31

BELLINGHAM – A contaminated waterfront site located at the foot of Cornwall Avenue is one step closer to becoming a city park with the release of a report that details an environmental investigation.

Completed by the city of Bellingham with Department of Ecology oversight, the document describes the contamination found, evaluates cleanup options, and identifies a preferred cleanup option.

“It’s exciting to see this project move forward,” said Mark Adams, site manager for Ecology. “Identifying a cleanup method is an important part of helping the city build a park.”

The planned waterfront park will be built in phases, as funds become available. The first phase will be completed after cleanup construction, which may be several years from now, depending upon the availability of state remedial action grants and local matching funds, as well as the timing of permitting.

Various companies operated a lumber mill and treated wood on the property over the past 100 years. R.G. Haley International Corp. was the last company to treat wood there, from 1955 to 1985. The wood treatment process included using a mixture of pentachlorophenol and a diesel-like carrier oil.

Extensive sampling has shown that contamination exists in the soil, groundwater, sediment and soil vapor.

In 2000, the former owners of the property installed a sheet pile wall to control petroleum seeping from groundwater into the bay. The city purchased the property in 2009 and in 2013, completed an interim cleanup project to control a petroleum sheen originating in sediment near the shoreline, south of the wall.

The newly issued environmental report explains the preferred option for a permanent site-wide cleanup. This option includes solidifying contaminated soils near the shoreline to permanently encase the pollution, and removing about 7,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the beach and intertidal area and relocating it onto the upland area. The upland area will be capped with a low-permeability material and some beach and in-water areas will be capped with clean sand. In addition, the preferred option includes monitoring to ensure the cleanup is successful and property use restrictions to maintain the integrity of the cleanup.

The cleanup is estimated to cost about $16 million. Ecology will reimburse the city up to half the cost of cleanup through the state’s Remedial Action Grant program, which helps pay for the cleanup of publicly owned sites. The Legislature funds the grant program with revenues from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

The public is invited to comment on the report through Oct. 14. The report can be reviewed at Ecology’s website and in person at:

Comments can be sent to Mark Adams, Ecology site manager, in writing to mark.adams@ecy.wa.gov or 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98008-5452.

Ecology also will host a public meeting Sept. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bellingham Municipal Court Building in the IT Fireplace Room.

Contact:

Krista Kenner, Ecology communications, 360-715-5205, @ecyNorth

Vanessa Blackburn, City of Bellingham communications, 360-778-8100