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: March 2021

 Información en español abajo

Spring 2021:  Pre-Remedial Design Investigation Fieldwork

The northern portion of Boulevard Park is also the South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant cleanup site - so named for its industrial past.

This spring you’ll see environmental contractors collecting soil, groundwater, and sediment samples for testing to help inform cleanup of this area of the park. The planned fieldwork, called a pre-remedial design investigation, will provide additional information to complete engineering design of the final cleanup action

For more details, visit Ecology's blog and watch our video.

"Cleaning up: Fieldwork at a beloved Bellingham waterfront park"
(March 2021)
YouTube link
(March 2021)

2020 Outreach for Cleanup Action Plan and SEPA Determination

Fact Sheet
(June 2020)
Cleanup Action Plan
(Final, August 2020)
Response to Comments
(August 2020)

 Virtual Tour

These 2020 videos were funded through a Public Participation Grant from Ecology.


En español

El Departamento de Ecología le invita a revisor los documentos para el sitio que está contaminado South State Street MGP 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


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
Site Manager
(360) 255-4381

Ian Fawley
Public Involvement Coordinator
(360) 255-4382

Document Repositories:

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