Work begins to contain oil seeping on Bellingham waterfront



Crews monitor oil seeping on a small area of shoreline at the R.G. Haley cleanup site, southwest of the intersection of Cornwall Avenue and Wharf Street on Bellingham's waterfront on Dec. 20, 2012. Interwest Construction of Burlington will place a specially amended layer of sand and clay over the oil seep.


BELLINGHAM — Crews are beginning work to contain oil that is intermittently seeping from a waterfront cleanup site near downtown Bellingham, the Washington Department of Ecology said Monday, Oct. 28.

The oil, first discovered in December 2012, is seeping from a small area of shoreline at the R.G. Haley cleanup site at the foot of Cornwall Avenue, near Wharf Street. The site is known to be contaminated with wood treatment chemicals from past industrial activities. From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s the site was used for industries including lumber, coal and wharf operations.

The city of Bellingham owns most of the contaminated land and plans to build a park there.

Crews with Interwest Construction of Burlington have been hired to cover a 5,000-square-foot area of the shoreline with a specially amended layer of sand and clay to absorb oil seeping out. Crews had previously contained the oil sheen on the water with a boom and absorbent pads.

The clay/sand layer will be placed within a rock berm and covered with a layer of gravel to protect it from winter storms.

Much of the shoreline work will be done at night in November when tides are expected to be lowest. Work is expected to finish by the end of November.

The project is a temporary fix designed to contain the oil until the site-wide cleanup begins in 2015, Ecology said in a news release.

The city awarded the construction contract to Interwest for $88,514. The total project cost – including design, permitting, materials, and construction – is about $400,000.

Ecology is overseeing the work and will reimburse half of the city’s costs through the state’s Remedial Action Grant program. The program helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites and is funded with revenue from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

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