USA: Samples to Prove Success of Eldridge Cleanup

Crews will return to the Eldridge Municipal Landfill cleanup site in Bellingham’s Little Squalicum Park this week to collect soil and groundwater samples. The samples will help determine if cleanup work was effective.

From August to October 2011, contractors working for the city of Bellingham removed 4,290 tons of landfill debris and contaminated soil from the site. The site was restored with clean soil and plantings. A new wetland also was created to replace one that was removed during the excavation.

Samples collected this week will be tested for various contaminants, including metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and pentachlorophenols.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is overseeing cleanup activities at the site under state cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act.

The completed excavation work is considered an interim cleanup action because additional cleanup work may be required. The city is continuing to compile a report on an environmental investigation and evaluation of cleanup options, and a cleanup action plan. Information from analysis of this week’s samples will contribute to that report and help determine if additional work still needs to be done. These are required steps toward cleanup under the state cleanup law.

Ecology expects to release the results of the full investigation and evaluation of cleanup options for public review in a draft report in late 2012.

The interim cleanup action cost $656,000, and the follow-up sampling and analysis are expected to cost $41,000. Ecology will reimburse up to half the city’s costs through the state’s remedial action grant program, which helps pay to clean up publicly owned sites. The state Legislature funds the grant program with revenues from a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

The Eldridge Municipal Landfill site is about 19,000 square feet in Little Squalicum Park, west of the Bellingham Technical College campus parking lot. The site is on property owned by Whatcom County and managed by the city as a park. In the mid- to late-1930s, the city used the area as a landfill for burning and burying local municipal waste. The landfill operated for only a few years.

The Eldridge Municipal Landfill is one of 12 cleanup sites in the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot, a multi-agency collaborative effort to cleanup contamination, control pollution sources, restore habitat and carry out land use plans. The pilot program is a major step toward restoring Puget Sound, and it is a model for other large-scale cleanup initiatives.


Dredging Today Staff, May 22, 2012;