Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bellingham community comes together to celebrate environmental cleanup

By Krista Kenner, Communications Manager, Bellingham Field Office

Ecology Director Maia Bellon stands with Port of Bellingham,
Lummi Nation and elected officials as Mayor Kelli Linville cuts ribbon 
This summer, the Bellingham community is getting a little bit closer to having a revitalized waterfront.

On Wednesday, Ecology Director Maia Bellon joined Mayor Kelli Linville, Port of Bellingham Executive Director Rob Fix, and other elected officials to celebrate the kickoff of the Whatcom Waterway cleanup, a major milestone in the transformation of the Bellingham waterfront.

Community members and representatives from local and state agencies as well as tribes were excited to hear the details of the upcoming cleanup activities. After all, a lot of work, planning and collaboration has occurred to get us where we are today. 

Crews will begin dredging contaminated sediment in the Whatcom Waterway during the week of Aug. 24.

Over 159,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be pulled out—enough to fill a line of dump trucks for 78 miles, from Bellingham to Bothell. The dredging equipment mobilized this week in preparation for the project.

The contamination exists from industrial practices that pre-date modern environmental regulations.

The state-driven cleanup has to happen before the Port of Bellingham can succeed in rebuilding the waterfront economy and the City of Bellingham can realize its vision of transforming the waterfront to a vibrant part of its city center.

“This project will help us take a big step towards restoring Bellingham Bay and the greater Puget Sound, and in strengthening our endangered salmon recovery efforts,” said Bellon in her remarks.

Smaller-scale cleanup and habitat restoration projects have already made positive impacts in the aquatic environment of the Whatcom Waterway.

The cleanup will cost over $30 million. Ecology will pay for half of the cost through a state grant program.

“Starting this work is truly a milestone worth celebrating,” said Bellon. “Think of the beautiful waterfront that is in store. Think of the cleaner environment for fish and people. I can’t wait to come back and see it when the project is complete.”

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