South State Street MGP

Aerial view of South State Street MGP cleanup site Upland and Marine Units located along South State Street in Bellingham.
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Last Updated May, 2019

Cleanup Process Moves Forward Towards Drafting a Cleanup Action Plan

Response to Comments

Información en español abajo 

Ecology conducted a public comment period (March 18 – April 16, 2019) on an amendment to a legal agreement with the City of Bellingham and Puget Sound Energy. The amendment requires development of a cleanup action plan and design documents to address contamination at the South State Street MGP site.

Ecology reviewed and considered all comments received on the legal agreement amendment. Based on Ecology’s evaluation of the comments, no changes were made to the documents, and they have been finalized. (Final Agreed Order Amendment

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 South State Street MGP 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  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.

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  • October - November 2018:  Held a 30-day public comment period (Oct 18 – Nov 6, 2018) for draft Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS). Held a public meeting on Oct 30, 2018 (presentation link).
  • January 2019:  Finalized the RI/FS (see “View Electronic Documents” to the right) and created a Response to Comments
  • March – April 2019: Held a 30-day Public comment period (March 18 - April 16, 2019) on legal agreement amendment. See Response to Comments.
  • 2019/2020:  Select cleanup action and make cleanup action plan available for public review and comment. 
  • 2020:  Complete design of the cleanup action. 
  • 2021:  Begin implementing the cleanup action.


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 north end of Boulevard Park), facing west, September 2018
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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 from coal. Other potential sources of contamination also include historic railroad and lumber mill operations. The only remaining visible gas plant structures are a concrete gas-holding tank (JPEG 660 KB) and a small brick building (JPEG 1.6 MB) near South State Street.

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.

The investigation conducted by the City and PSE found contamination from a former gas plant and possibly other historical operations. 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:

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