RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Port of Bellingham are hosting a free public tour of the Blaine Marina cleanup site from 2:00 - 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 24th that will highlight the ongoing cleanup actions and give the public a chance to ask questions about the site. Participants should meet at the Blaine Marine Park Playground, 298 Marine Drive, Blaine.
During the tour, Ecology staff will explain the current phase of the cleanup process at the site and Port of Bellingham staff will highlight the successful eelgrass restoration project that happened in conjunction with a past expansion at Blaine Harbor. For many projects, on-site mitigation helps achieve maximum ecological benefits for the site.
“The Port’s 14.2 acre eelgrass restoration project at the southern end of Drayton Harbor is a terrific success story,” said Port of Bellingham Environmental Director Brian Gouran. “Eelgrass provides valuable habitat for a wide variety marine species and is critical to the long-term success of ongoing endangered salmon recovery efforts.”
From 1955 to 2015, Blaine Marina provided fuel storage and sales for commercial fishing and recreation industries. Although fuel operations closed in 2015, infrastructure including tanks and piping remains. Environmental investigations from 1990-2007 documented diesel and oil releases exceeding standards of the Model Toxics Control Act, posing a threat to human health and environment. In 2012, Ecology required the Port to repair a failing section of bulkhead, conduct an environmental investigation, and prepare a draft cleanup plan for the site. For more information on the cleanup process, visit https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=63.
Cris Matthews, Ecology’s site manager, will be at the tour to answer questions about the cleanup process. To study the extent of the contamination, soil and groundwater samples were recently collected near the fuel storage tanks. The preferred cleanup plan would excavate 3,000 cubic yards of contaminated material for treatment and disposal.
“This cleanup is exciting and somewhat unusual,” said Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “For most sites around Bellingham Bay, cleanup has mostly entailed removing only the most contaminated material then capping the site. At Blaine Marina, the Port hopes to remove at least 70% of the contaminated material and treat the rest.”