Cleanup of contaminated soil from old landfill begins at Little Squalicum Park

Source: http://www.bellinghamherald.com, August 26, 2011
By: Kie Relyea

Cleanup of a former municipal landfill at Little Squalicum Park began this week, as crews started the project to dig up what will be a total of 2,400 cubic yards of contaminated soil and old solid waste.

The work will continue into late September. It is expected to cost about $656,000.

Glacier Environmental Services is doing the work for the city of Bellingham. The state Department of Ecology is overseeing the cleanup under the state cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act.

Known as the Eldridge Municipal Landfill site, the site is about 19,000 square feet and west of a parking lot for Bellingham Technical College.

For a few years in the mid- to late 1930s, the city burned and buried local municipal waste in an area that’s now part of the park.

Whatcom County owns the land, which the city of Bellingham manages as a park.

Remnants of the old landfill include ash, ceramics, charcoal, drywall, glass bottles, metal scraps and contaminated soil.

Under the proposal, the contaminated soil and old solid waste will be dug up and moved to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Klickitat County.

The excavated area will then be filled with clean soil.

The landfill was discovered during the city of Bellingham’s larger environmental investigation of the park in 2006 for the cleanup of Little Squalcium Creek that is being handled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA started that cleanup last summer – and is expected to complete it by fall – but Ecology is overseeing cleanup of the landfill as a separate project.

The creek had been contaminated by past wood-treatment chemicals from The Oeser Co. Polluted soil and sediment is being dug up, moved nearby to the Oeser property and covered.

In 2010, Ecology entered into an agreement with the city of Bellingham that requires the city to develop an environmental study of the site and to evaluate cleanup options.

Those aren’t expected to go out for public review until early 2012, and that’s why the work that started this week is referred to as an interim cleanup, according to Ecology.

The cleanup is starting now because of the availability of funding to the city. Following the interim cleanup, tests will determine if more work is needed to comply with state cleanup requirements.

The interim cleanup will affect access to Little Squalicum Park. Such limitations are not new; EPA has kept the lower part of the park closed for its cleanup.

Ecology will reimburse the city for as much as half of the cost through a grant that provides funding for cleanup of publicly owned sites.

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