State begins investigation of toxins at Westman Marine site

Published on Wed, Mar 6, 2013
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The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) and the Port of Bellingham are entering into a legal agreement to investigate contamination at the Westman Marine site in Blaine. The agreement, known as an agreed order, is the first step in the process that will require the port to conduct a cleanup under DOE oversight.

This legal agreement obligates the port to investigate the contamination, analyze possible cleanup options through a feasibility study and develop a draft cleanup plan describing the selected method.

The Westman Marine site is located in the southeastern portion of the Blaine harbor industrial area. The port owns most of the site. Prior to 1949, the aquatic lands were dredged to create a small boat harbor and marina. The upland industrial area was also created during that time using hydraulic fill with timber bulkheads along the shoreline.

Between 1961 and 1969 a dock was constructed and the area where the current travel lift exists was dredged. The marina has expanded several times since its original construction, but the footprint of the upland industrial area has remained the same. 

In 2001, the port collected surface sediment samples as part of an environmental investigation. These samples exceeded the state sediment screening level used for bulk tributyltin. Tributylin, a biocide, was used in the manufacture of marine anti-fouling paints and has been banned by the International Maritime Organization. Higher-level concentrations of copper were also detected in the surface sediment collected near the marine railway and travel lift piers.

The DOE has invited the public to review the proposed legal agreement and public participation plan which will describe how the DOE will inform and involved the public in the cleanup process.

The public can then submit written comments on the process from March 6 to April 5. 

All phases of the cleanup will be conducted under the Model Toxics Control Act that was enacted in 1989.

Comments can be submitted to Jing Liu, site manager, Washington Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Avenue SE, Bellevue, Washington 98008 or by email at jing.liu@ecy.wa.gov.

To review the documents, visit the Bellingham DOE field office at 1440 10th Street, Suite 102 by appointment or the Bellingham Public Library located at 210 Central Avenue.