Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot Project

Editor’s Note: Since the article by Nicole Oliver appeared in 1997, many projects have moved forward under the Demonstration Pilot Project. Here’s an update.

by Lucy McInerney

Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy
Work in Bellingham Bay is happening with the guidance of the Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy final environmental impact statement, completed in 2000 by the multi-agency Bellingham Bay Action Team (formerly the Bellingham Bay Work Group).

The Comprehensive Strategy integrates cleanup of sediment contamination, controlling sources of sediment contamination, habitat restoration and land use on a bay-wide scale, creating a clear context for decision-makers. For more information go to:

Land Use Planning
In December 2013, the city of Bellingham finalized a subarea plan and related development regulations for the Waterfront District, which encompasses several contaminated sites undergoing cleanup.

The plan was created in partnership with the Port of Bellingham to provide guidance for private development, public improvements, and prioritization of city investments. For more information visit:

The below list shows the current status of the cleanup projects occurring in and around Bellingham Bay.

Central Waterfront* (Waterfront District):  In progress, cleanup design underway.

Cornwall Avenue Landfill* (Waterfront Dist.):  In progress, cleanup design underway.

Eldridge Municipal Landfill:   Completed.

Georgia-Pacific West (Waterfront District)   Northern area:    Completed.
Southern area:     Study underway.

Harris Avenue Shipyard:   In progress, study/partial cleanup underway.

Holly Street Landfill:   Completed.

I&J Waterway (Waterfront District):   In progress, cleanup selection underway.

Little Squalicum Park:   Completed.

R.G. Haley* (Waterfront District):   In progress, cleanup selection underway.

South State Street Manufactured Gas Plant*   In progress, study underway.

Weldcraft Steel and Marine*   In progress, cleanup selection pending.

Whatcom Waterway* (Waterfront District):   Phase 1 areas – completed.

Phase 2 areas – cleanup design:   Pending.

*Partial cleanups also completed

Contaminated sediment removed as part of the cleanup work was disposed at an upland permitted disposal facility.

The shoreline cleanup projects also address contaminated groundwater, erosion of surface soil, and stormwater as potential sources of sediment contamination.

For more information about the cleanup projects go to:

Restoring Habitat
With the guidance of the comprehensive strategy and the expertise of the Bellingham Bay Action Team, habitat restoration elements are part of the various in-water cleanup projects. In addition, the comprehensive strategy and the Bellingham Bay Action Team prioritized a number of other projects/studies.

Here’s the current status of some of the projects:

Cliffside Beach wood debris removal:  Completed.

East Fairhaven shoreline restoration:  Pending.

Forage fish study:  Completed.

GP Log Pond eel grass planting:  Completed.

Hydrodynamic modeling:  Completed.

Juvenile Chinook study:  Completed.

Little Squalicum beach restoration:  Pending.

Little Squalicum Creek estuary construction:  Pending.

Nearshore and Estuarine Assessment and Restoration Prioritization:  Completed.

Padden Creek estuary enhancement:  Completed.

Sediment study in support of creosote piling removals:  Completed.

Squalicum Creek estuary restoration:  Completed.

Squalicum Creek Waterway fish passage:  Pending.

Waypoint Park beach construction:  Pending.

Whatcom Creek estuary:  Pending.

Woodwaste survey:  Completed.

Thanks to Lucy McInerney, P.E. of the Washington State Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program for providing the above information. She co-manages the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot Project.