Bellingham waterfront gets $17.7M for cleanup

State grant to pay for Whatcom Waterway project
April 25, 2023 at 1:19 p.m.
A $17.7 million state grant will support cleanup of the Whatcom Waterway on Bellingham's waterfront.
A $17.7 million state grant will support cleanup of the Whatcom Waterway on Bellingham's waterfront. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Staff Reporter

Cleanup of Whatcom Waterway on Bellingham’s waterfront got a boost this month from the state Legislature. 

Lawmakers approved $17.7 million for ongoing cleanup of the waterway, which includes Waypoint Park, Bellingham Shipping Terminal and the adjacent aerated stabilization basin.

The waterway off Waypoint Park was cleaned up during Phase 1 of the effort to restore Whatcom Waterway — work that’s expected to continue for another five years at a cost of $160 million.

Port of Bellingham Public Affairs Administrator Mike Hogan said this year’s allocation from the Legislature will be used to complete the design and permitting for Phase 2 of the cleanup, and to begin the cleanup in the aerated stabilization basin — the enclosed body of water between the shipping terminal and Zuanich Point Park. 

“Since this … grant funding will only cover a portion of the required cleanup work, the Port will be seeking additional funding during future state budget cycles,” Hogan said.

Studies of sediment in the waterway have shown mercury, 4-methylphenol, dioxin and furan at levels exceeding state cleanup standards, according to the Department of Ecology. The contaminants were released from industrial activities at the Georgia-Pacific plant adjacent to the waterway. Georgia-Pacific ceased all of its operations on the waterfront in 2007.

Ecology is accepting public comments on the Whatcom Waterway cleanup through May 23 at bit.ly/Ecology-WhatcomWaterway.

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