South State Street MGP

Aerial view of South State Street MGP cleanup site Upland and Marine Units located along South State Street in Bellingham. (Click image to enlarge)
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Last Updated: June 2020

Online Public Meeting
Thursday, June 25, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Download June 25 Public Meeting Presentation (PDF)

View a Virtual Site Tour 
with informational videos created by RE Sources: 
(Website available after 6/12/2020)

This product is funded through a Public Participation Grant from Ecology. 

COMMENTS 30-day Comment Period: 
June 22 – July 21, 2020

Submit Comments and View Comments 


Información en español abajo 

Cleanup Action Plan and associated documents ready for public review and comment

Ecology invites you to review a draft cleanup action plan and associated environmental review document for the South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant Site (Site) on the Bellingham waterfront. The plan calls for a combination of removing structures, capping contaminated soil and sediment, enhancing the natural breakdown of groundwater contamination, protecting the shoreline, monitoring conditions, and restricting activities that could disturb capped areas.

The following documents are available for review:

**For document review assistance** 
Please contact Ecology:
Ian Fawley, Outreach Specialist
(425) 324-5901

The contamination is from a former manufactured gas plant and other historic operations located at the north end of Boulevard Park. The contaminant levels are potentially harmful and must be addressed under Washington’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). 

En español

El Departamento de Ecología le invita a comentar sobre un reporte ambiental para el sitio que está contaminado South State Street MGP en Bellingham.  

Si le gustaría recibir este documento en español, por favor llame a Mark Wheeler 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; 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.

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


  • June 22 – July 21, 2020:  Hold a 30-day public comment period.
  • June 25, 2020: Host an online public meeting.
  • Later 2020:  Finalize the Cleanup Action Plan. Ecology will review and consider all comments received on the draft plan and respond accordingly.
  • Estimated 2022:  Complete design and permitting for the cleanup action. 
  • Estimated 2023: Begin construction of the cleanup action.

Cleanup construction will occur under a separate legal agreement, which will be issued for public review and comment.


Current South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant cleanup site Public Participation Plan

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.

South State Street MGP site (and Boulevard Park), facing east, before 2017 Interim Action (click to enlarge)
Please click on the photo for a larger view


Site History 
The South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant site is about 6 acres at the north end of Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Portions of the property at South State Street near Bay View Drive are contaminated where a manufactured gas plant operated from the 1890s to the 1950s. The plant made home heating and cooking fuel (gas) from coal. Other potential sources of contamination also include historic railroad and lumber mill operations. 

Bellingham Bay Gas Co., a predecessor to Puget Sound Energy, was the first operator of the plant. Cascade Natural Gas bought and continued to operate the plant in the 1950s. Residential developers bought the plant property in the 1960s. The city of Bellingham acquired most of the gas plant property in 1975 for use as a park. The state and BNSF Railway Co. also own portions of the contaminated area.

An Agreed Order (legal agreement) in 2010 between Ecology, the City, and PSE requires the City and PSE to investigate contamination (remedial investigation) evaluate cleanup alternatives (feasibility study), and prepare a report of their findings. The legal agreement also includes provisions to take early cleanup actions if necessary. A 2019 amendment to the Agreed Order requires development of a cleanup action plan and design documents to address contamination at the South State Street MGP site.

The City and PSE began investigating contamination at the Site in 2010 with Ecology oversight. Contaminants were found in soil, groundwater, and sediment above state standards established to protect human health and the environment. Contaminants include:

  • carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs)
  • benzene
  • naphthalene
  • cyanide
  • selenium
  • lead
Early Cleanup Action (Interim Action)
Historically, marine forces and storms caused shoreline erosion and damage to a public pier. This triggered the need for an early cleanup action to prevent further shoreline erosion and potential exposure to and movement of contaminated soil. The early action, called an interim action, was completed in October 2017.  The interim action:  
  • Removed creosote-treated piles and a wood deck.
  • Stabilized an existing concrete bulkhead.
  • Stabilized approximately 450 linear feet of shoreline with rock.

Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant 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: # 2865

Cleanup Site ID: 4606

Bellingham, Whatcom County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

John Guenther
Project Manager
(360) 255-4381

Ian Fawley
Public Involvement Coordinator
(360) 255-4382

Lucy McInerney
Project Lead
(425) 649-7272

Document Repositories:

Ecology Bellingham Field Office
913 Squalicum Way, Unit 101
Bellingham, 98225