Soil tests at Boulevard Park to begin Jan. 16

BELLINGHAM-Environmental testing will begin Monday, Jan. 16, at Boulevard Park as part of the cleanup of contamination left behind by a coal gasification plant that shut down in the 1950s.

State Department of Ecology spokeswoman Katie Skipper said an environmental testing firm under contract to the city of Bellingham will use drilling equipment to take soil and groundwater samples in the upper section of the park, as well as in the lower waterfront area near the performance stage. The work could take about a week to complete.

The department is overseeing the work. According to the agency's website, the actual cleanup project won't be ready to break ground until 2014, after the best cleanup methods have been identified and a legal cleanup agreement has been drafted.