Cornwall Avenue Landfill

Aerial view of Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup site (click image to enlarge)
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Last Updated: February 2021
 Información en español abajo

Response to Comments
(August 2018)

Final Engineering Design Report
(April 2018)

Fact Sheet
(December 2017)
(January 2018) 

Cleanup Construction Planning and Permitting Underway

Preparation of cleanup construction plans and specifications are underway. Construction permits are being secured through federal and natural resource agencies. Engineering design is being coordinated with the adjacent R.G. Haley cleanup site.

Ecology conducted a public comment period (Dec. 18, 2017 - Feb. 22, 2018) on an engineering design report for the cleanup of a portion of the Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup site on the Bellingham waterfront. The report provides the preliminary design for isolating contamination and controlling landfill gas. The report was prepared by the Port of Bellingham, the City of Bellingham, and the State Department of Natural Resources, with Ecology oversight.
Ecology also held a public meeting (Feb. 15) at its Bellingham office to provide more information and collect comments.  Click here to view the meeting presentation. (9.6 MB) 

Ecology has reviewed and considered all comments received on the Engineering Design Report (65 MB).  Based on Ecology’s evaluation of the comments, no changes were made to the document.
Ecology issued a Response to Comments (674 KB) to address comments received.

En español

El Departamento de Ecología le invita a revisor los documentos para el sitio que está contaminado Cornwall Avenue Landfill en Bellingham.  

Si le gustaría recibir documentos en español, por favor llame al 509-329-3444 o envíe un correo electrónico a  Traducciones de avisos públicos para los sitios de limpieza de la Bahía de Bellingham se preparan bajo solicitud.


The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) 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.

Click graphic to enlarge
Please click on the photo for a larger view


  • 2017/2018:  Finalize cleanup design
  • 2018-2021:  Prepare construction plans and specifications
  • 2021/2022:  Begin construction


Current Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup site Public Participation Plan  (772 KB)

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.

2017 Aerial view of Site looking east. White-tarped mounds cover soil to be used as part of cleanup activities.
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Site History
The Cornwall Avenue Landfill cleanup site is located on the Bellingham waterfront between Boulevard Park and the former Georgia Pacific pulp mill, and is most recognizable today for the large mounds covered with white plastic. It's at the south end of Cornwall Avenue. About 13 acres of the site are on land, and about 3.5 acres are in water. Property within the site is owned by the City of Bellingham, Port of Bellingham, and State Department of Natural Resources.

  • 1888-1946: The site was used for sawmill operations, including log storage and wood disposal.
  • 1965: Closure of the landfill; the site was covered with a layer of soil.
  • 1971 to 2005: The site was used for log storage and warehousing operations.
  • 2011: An interim cleanup action was conducted with Ecology oversight.
  • 2013:  Completed a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) - this document identifies the nature, extent and magnitude of contamination and how people, plants and animals may be exposed.  It also assembles and evaluates cleanup options and identifies a preferred option.
  • 2014:  Finalized a Cleanup Action Plan.  Based on the information in the RI/FS, this document describes Ecology's selected cleanup action for the upland and shoreline/shallow-water portions of the site.  A future cleanup plan will address the deep in-water portion of the site.
  • 2015:  Field investigations completed to support design of Ecology's selected cleanup action. Field investigations completed to support design of Ecology's selected cleanup action.

The site remedial investigation found an estimated 295,000 cubic yards of municipal waste and 94,000 cubic yards of wood waste. Some of the contamination associated with this waste includes:

  • Groundwater contamination:  tannins and lignins associated with wood waste breakdown products; elevated nitrogen compounds like ammonia; elevated dissolved metals like manganese; and volatile organics like benzene in the ground water.
  • Sediment contamination:  phthalates, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), phenols, and diesel and oil-range petroleum hydrocarbons in the sediment.
  • Contamination from neighboring sites:  contamination from two neighboring cleanup sites overlaps with contamination at the Cornwall site. Petroleum hydrocarbons, pentachlorophenol, carcinogenic PAHs, and other contaminants associated with former wood treating operations at the adjacent R.G. Haley site are present in the soil, sediment and groundwater. And mercury associated with the Whatcom Waterway site is present in the sediment. 

Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The Cornwall Avenue Landfill 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 (50.9 MB)



Map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA SITE INFORMATION


View Electronic Documents

Cleanup Site Details Report

Facility Site ID: # 2913

Cleanup Site ID: 220

Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

Mark Adams
Site Manager
(425) 649-7107

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