BELLINGHAM—Proposed changes to the pollution cleanup plan for Whatcom Waterway are ready for public comment, the Washington Department of Ecology announced Thursday, March 10.
The underwater sediments in the waterway are tainted with mercury discharged during the operation of the Georgia-pacific Corp. pulp mill that shut down in 2001. The original 2007 cleanup plan envisioned depositing some dredged material from the less-contaminated outer waterway in deep-water disposal sites, but dioxin and furan contamination that has been discovered in those sediments will require a different approach.
The new plan envisions disposing of those sediments inside G-P’s old wastewater treatment lagoon, once the more highly-contaminated material inside the lagoon has been removed.
The waterway sediments would then be covered with clean material to enable the port to proceed with its long-range plan to convert the lagoon into a marina.
The Whatcom Waterway cleanup is expected to cost about $90 million. Ecology will reimburse up to half the port’s costs through the state’s remedial action grant program, which helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites. The state legislature funds the grant program with revenues from a tax on hazardous substances, such as petroleum, that enter the state.
The first phase of the project would include cleanup of the inner waterway, as envisioned in the 2007 plan, beginning in 2012. The second phase would include cleanup of the outer waterway and the treatment lagoon with construction beginning in 2017.
Information on the proposed changes will be available during a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. March 15 at Bellingham Technical College, 3028 Lindbergh Ave., Building G., Room 102A.
The documentation can be read online (click here)
Comments may be submitted to, Lucy McInerney, site manager, Washington Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98008-5452 or by email: email@example.com
The public comment period ends April 11, 2011.