Harris Avenue Shipyard

Aerial view of Harris Avenue Shipyard cleanup site
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Last updated, June 2019

Cleanup Process Moves Forward Towards Drafting a Cleanup Action Plan

Response to Comments

 Información en español abajo

Ecology conducted a public comment period (April 1 - 30, 2019) on an environmental report for the Harris Avenue Shipyard 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 Port of Bellingham (Port) prepared this report with Ecology oversight. Investigations conducted by the Port found contamination from former shipbuilding and other historical operations

Ecology reviewed and considered all comments received on the RI/FS. Based on Ecology’s evaluation of the comments, no changes were made to the documents, and they have been finalized. 

Ecology issued a Response to Comments to address comments received.

En español

El Departamento de Ecología le invita a comentar sobre un reporte ambiental para el sitio que está contaminado Harris Avenue Shipyard en Bellingham.  

Si le gustaría recibir este documento en español, por favor llame a Gretchen Newman al 360-407-6097 o envíe un correo electrónico a preguntas@ecy.wa.gov.  Traducciones de avisos públicos para los sitios de limpieza de la Bahía de Bellingham se preparan bajo solicitud. 


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


  • April 2019:  Held a 30-day public comment period (April 1 - 30, 2019) for a draft Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). Held a public meeting on April 17, 2019. (Presentation Link)
  • June 2019:  Finalized the RI/FS report (see “View Electronic Documents” to the right) and created a Response to Comments
  • 2020:  Select cleanup action. Based on the information in the final RI/FS report, Ecology will select a cleanup action for the Site. We will issue our cleanup action plan and an associated legal agreement for public review. The legal agreement will require the Port, and possibly others, to design the cleanup action.  
  • 2021:  Complete design and permitting for the cleanup action.  Public review of a legal agreement requiring the Port, and possibly others, to implement the cleanup action.
  • 2022-2023:  Begin implementing the cleanup action.


Current Harris Avenue Shipyard cleanup site Public Participation Plan

This plan describes how Ecology will share information with the community and how you can share information with us. Ecology will review this plan as the cleanup progresses and amend/update it as necessary.

Harris Avenue Shipyard after Interim Action, July 2018
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Site History
The Harris Avenue Shipyard cleanup site (Site) is located at 201 Harris Avenue in Bellingham’s Fairhaven Neighborhood. The Site consists of approximately 5 acres of contaminated marine sediment (in-water) and 5 acres of contaminated soil and groundwater (upland). The contamination is from historic shipbuilding and other industrial operations.

Shipbuilding activities began in the early 1900’s, and in 1966 the Port began leasing to other industrial operations.

The State of Washington and the Port own the property within the Site. The Port and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources have a management agreement for the harbor-area parcels, including the aquatic and historical infill lands.

In 1998, the Port began voluntarily investigating sediment at the Site. Based on this work, Ecology and the Port entered into a legal agreement (agreed order) in 2003 to complete a comprehensive sediment investigation. In 2010, Ecology and the Port entered into a second agreed order to investigate upland soil and groundwater. 

Early cleanup (Interim Action)
In 2018, the Port, with Ecology oversight, completed an early cleanup action for a portion of the Site. 

The early cleanup action, called an interim action:

  • Removed wooden and creosote structures.
  • Dredged and disposed of contaminated subtidal sediment.
  • Excavated and backfilled intertidal areas with clean sediment.
  • Excavated and disposed of contaminated soil, and capped with gravel.
  • Replaced creosote-treated wooden pier with concrete and steel pier.

Investigations conducted by the Port found contamination from former shipbuilding and other historical operations. Contaminants in soil and groundwater (petroleum hydrocarbon compounds and metals) and sediment (polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, semivolatile organic compounds, and metals) were found at concentrations above state standards established to protect human health and the environment. 

Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The Harris Avenue Shipyard 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

Cleanup Site Details Report

Facility Site ID: # 2922

Cleanup Site ID: 193

Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

John Guenther
Site 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