Bellingham waterfront cleanup underway

by Tim Flanagan on January 24, 2009

John Stark’s article in the Bellingham Herald makes it all sound pretty straightforward. No significant levels of mercury contamination have been found in tissue samples from marine organisms. Old sediment contaminated by the old Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill is being removed or isolated beneath a layer of “clean material” to minimize harm.

Sounds great! But then it gets interesting:

G-P’s old wastewater treatment lagoon also will be cleaned out for reuse as a marina. Dan Stahl, medical director of marine services, this told commissioners the cleanup of the lagoon and marina construction will be a four-year project that will be ready for construction beginning in 2010, meaning the new marina could be ready for business some time around 2013 or 2014.

Stahl told commissioners that much of the port’s existing moorage space in Squalicum Harbor and Blaine was designed for smaller vessels. More of the new spaces will be designed for ones in the 40-foot or larger range.

As a recreational boater (my boat’s overall length: 25 feet), I’m all for nice new marina facilities. I was unfamiliar with this project, so I did a little research, and I found this page at It includes a couple of handy images. Sort of a before and after


Wow, it’s like a boater’s paradise. I can’t wait to visit Bellingham by boat and spend lots and lots of money there! :-) I’m being facetious, although I do like Bellingham a lot, and I have visited by boat. There’s a reason I’m being a smart-aleck about this.

You see, it turns out that some folks in Bellingham and Whatcom County are not entirely gung-ho about the plan; read the reader comments below the article to learn who’s upset, and why. It sounds like there’s a great deal of history and context and, yes, distrust that outsiders may not fully appreciate.

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