State taking input on central Bellingham waterfront cleanup

The Central Waterfront is shown on Sept. 19, 2013. The new All American Marine building will go on the property near the bottom right corner.
The Central Waterfront is shown on Sept. 19, 2013. The new All American Marine building will go on the property near the bottom right corner. The Bellingham Herald

The public can comment on an interim cleanup plan for Bellingham’s central waterfront through April 12.

The plan involves 55 acres between the Whatcom and I and J waterways, and Roeder Avenue and the wastewater treatment lagoon.

Some of the work in the plan is needed for the new 60,000-square-foot marine manufacturing building and launch route that the Port of Bellingham will construct for All American Marine.

The new AAM building and its foundation will cover a portion of the old Roeder Avenue landfill, which was used for city garbage and waste from the former Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and tissue mill from 1965 to 1974.

The landfill is about 14 feet thick on average. Because it has been more than 40 years since garbage was put in the landfill, it has already released most of the gases that would be expected as the garbage decomposes, according to the cleanup plan. Other buildings already sit on top of the landfill.

However, some gases are still being released, so the interim work will include installing a landfill gas control system underneath the new building to ventilate the landfill and prevent gas from building up inside the new facility.

Comments on the Central Waterfront interim cleanup plan are due to Brian.Sato@ecy.wa.gov by April 12.

The interim cleanup also includes marine trades infrastructure upgrades at the C Street Terminal, such as enhanced stormwater collection, upgraded water and lighting service, and moving overhead electric power service underground.

To install utilities and foundations for the new building and the C Street Terminal, thousands of cubic yards of soil will need to be excavated, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Contaminated soil will be loaded into dump trucks and disposed of off site; soil with concentrations of pollutants at or below cleanup levels could remain there and be used for construction. Clean soil could be moved to the Cornwall Avenue landfill.

The interim steps are allowed before the port has a plan for the full cleanup on that site. The final study of the site will be ready for public review later this year.

Information on the interim and full cleanup plans can be found by searching for “Central Waterfront” on Ecology’s website at ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites.

Comments on the interim cleanup can be sent to Brian Sato, Site manager, WA Department of Ecology, Toxics Cleanup Program, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98008, or by email to brian.sato@ecy.wa.gov.

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil