Aerial image of Central Waterfront Site, July 2018
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Last Updated, January 2020

Cleanup Plan Moving Forward

Response to Comments

2019 Fact Sheet 

 Información en español abajo

On July 8, 2019, Ecology started a 30-day public comment period on a cleanup action plan and associated documents for the Central Waterfront Site on the Bellingham waterfront. The plan calls for a combination of removing and capping contaminated soil, monitoring conditions, and restricting uses. See our Fact Sheet for a general overview of the cleanup plan.

We received several requests for a public meeting.  As a result, we scheduled a public meeting for September 18, 2019 (Meeting Presentation) and a 30-day comment period from September 16 – October 15, 2019.

The plan is part of an amendment to an existing legal agreement between Ecology, the Port of Bellingham (Port), and City of Bellingham (City). 

    Ecology reviewed and considered all comments received on the legal agreement amendmentCleanup Action Plan, and State Environmental Policy Act Determination of Non-Significance (SEPA DNS). Based on Ecology’s evaluation of the comments, changes were made to the Cleanup Action Plan (see Response to Comment for details), and they are being 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 Central Waterfront 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


    • July 8 – August 6, 2019:  First 30-day public comment period.
    • July 10, 2019:  RE Sources for Sustainable Communities hosted a walking tour of the Site.
    • September 16 – October 15, 2019:  Second 30-day comment period.
    • September 18, 2019; 6 – 8 p.m. Ecology hosted a public meeting. Download Meeting Presentation
    • 2019/2020:  Finalize the Cleanup Action Plan. Ecology reviewed and consider all comments received and will finalize the plan.  Download Response to Comments
    • 2020-2021:  Complete design and permitting for the cleanup action.  


    Current Central Waterfront cleanup site Public Participation Plan

    This plan includes information for the public regarding opportunities to get involved in the Site 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. 

    Central Waterfront Site facing east, May 2019
    Please click on the photo for a larger view


    Site History
    The Central Waterfront cleanup site is made up of about 51 acres on Bellingham’s downtown waterfront, between I & J Waterway and Whatcom Waterway, and between Roeder Avenue and the former Georgia-Pacific industrial wastewater treatment lagoon. Property within the site is owned primarily by the Port of Bellingham or City of Bellingham. Beginning in the early 1900s, the site and surrounding tidelands were filled for various industrial uses.


    Investigations to date have found contaminants in soil, groundwater, and sediment associated with historical industrial uses: 

    • Soil: metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. Buried municipal refuse and wood waste and associated methane gas.
    • Groundwater:  metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.
    • Sediment: metals.  This was addressed by the Whatcom Waterway, Phase 1 cleanup in 2016.

      Contaminant levels are present at potentially harmful levels and must be addressed under Washington's toxics cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).

    Previous cleanup work

    2013: Early cleanup at former Chevron bulk fuel storage facility:

    • Removed 800 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil and sediment. 
    • Removed timber piles, oil, and contaminated groundwater.
    • Installed a waterproof barrier.
    • Restored the beach area with clean sand, gravel, and rock.

    2016:  Whatcom Waterway, Phase 1 cleanup:

    • Dredged and capped contaminated sediments.
    • Built a sheet-pile containment wall.

    2016 – 2017: C Street Terminal Improvements:

    • Rehabilitated utilities and upland infrastructure.
    • Improved stormwater collection and treatment systems.
    • Removed and/or capped (paved) contaminated soil.

    2017:  All American Marine building

    • Built 54,000 square-foot boat manufacturing building (with landfill gas control system) with adjacent pavement that caps and prevents exposure to contaminated soil and refuse.
    • Created a gravel boat launch route that caps contaminated soil. 
    • Properly disposed of contaminated materials encountered during construction.

    Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
    The Central Waterfront 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.


    The interim action reports linked below contain appendices with large volumes of laboratory data.  Please contact the site manager for file download.


    Map showing site location as Whatcom County, WA SITE INFORMATION


    View Electronic Documents

    Cleanup Site Details Report

    Facility Site ID: # 2864

    Cleanup Site ID: 3418

    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