Coming Soon to the Waterfront: More Dioxin and Toxic Waste

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Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 10:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

I am opposed to a policy in the Waterfront Sub-Area Plan that allows “beneficial reuse" of toxic materials in waterfront redevelopment projects.  The public is unaware of this policy, but it could have important impacts on public health and safety.  This is a matter that should be highlighted and discussed as part of the waterfront redevelopment process.  

Beneficial reuse of MTCA (Model Toxic Control Act) cleanup materials is listed as an environmental policy, requiring the city to "evaluate the beneficial reuse of dredge materials that meets Ecology standards for fill material and as raw material for construction projects."  (Page 22, Sec. 3.1. of Sub-Area Plan.)  Sustainable development policies in the Sub-Area Plan encourage re-use and recycling of materials on site.  (Page 29 of Sub-Area Plan.)  There was also reference to this policy in one of the numerous EIS documents for the waterfront.  Few members of the public understand the consequences of these provisions.

The public has consistently requested the highest level of environmental clean-up for the waterfront.  It is not surprising, therefore, that this policy has not been highlighted or discussed in the waterfront documents that have been provided for public review.  The city and the port have already established dangerous precedent for beneficial reuse after dumping dioxin at the Cornwall Landfill.

Dioxin contaminated sediment, exceeding state exposure levels, was dumped and left as a large mountain covered with a while plastic sheet. The dioxin sediment was mixed with concrete, a process that slows down, but does not eliminate mobilization of dioxin into the environment.  The toxic sediment will be spread across the site for construction of  a shoreline park, and residential and commercial buildings.  It will be capped with more soil, which again, slows down but does not eliminate dioxin mobilization.

The dioxin levels in the sediment dumped at the Cornwall Landfill can not meet the clean up standards applicable for unrestricted upland use, necessitating the use of a lower clean up standard applicable to industrial use. A reduced clean-up standard would increase permitted dioxin soil contamination from 11 parts per trillion to 1500 parts per trillion. This is a 100 fold increase in carcinogenic exposure, one of the highest exposure rates in the nation.  Beneficial reuse of dioxin is extremely controversial and the public has a right to informed that this is occurring.  

Tell the city to remove all policies from waterfront documents that favor beneficial reuse of persistent bioaccumulative toxins, unless and until there is full disclosure and public approval. I am troubled that the city and port have failed to disclose an issue so important to public health and safety, in contradiction of strong public input requesting the highest standards for waterfront cleanup and development.  

For further discussion of the dioxin problem at the Cornwall Landfill, and the city’s numerous violations of public due process, please review my article published in the Whatcom Watch at

Coming Soon to the Waterfront: More Dioxin and Toxic Waste

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 10:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A beneficial reuse provision in the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan would allow construction materials that are contaminated with bioaccumulative toxins.


Waterfront “Planned Action Ordinance” Limits Restoration and Public Input

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.

1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013

Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

Read All About It!  Cattlemen want slaughter.

Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 4:01 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the Cattlemen define 'small scale' as an unlimited number of facilities of up to 50 million live pounds per year.

3 comments; last on Mar 26, 2013

Living Wage and Working Waterfront 101

Sat, Mar 23, 2013, 11:53 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the rate base gets a soaking while officials keep big-bubble toking

7 comments; last on Apr 08, 2013

No City Housing Hearing on March 20

Tue, Mar 19, 2013, 10:05 am  //  John Servais

The Bellingham Herald article today is wrong. There is no hearing tomorrow, March 20


Valuable Article in the Whatcom Watch

Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:42 pm  //  John Servais

Wendy Harris writes about the proposed $8 million concrete bridge along the Bellingham waterfront - using Greenways funds to build.

3 comments; last on Mar 20, 2013

University Ridge Height Variance Hearing Postponed

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 11:50 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Several complaints to the city seem to have occasioned a postponement of a height variance hearing until a complete development proposal is submitted.

1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013

Closing Arguments in Defense of the Reconveyance

Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 7:37 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Shane Roth writes in favor of the reconveyance of Lake Whatcom land back to the county.

1 comments; last on Mar 11, 2013

Again, we must “vote for the forest”.........or should we?

Fri, Mar 08, 2013, 1:54 am  //  Guest writer

Delaine Clizbe guest writes. Whatcom County has 7,100 acres of park land, with 1,900 acres actually developed. Yet we keep adding land, and not developing our parks.

16 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013

Obamacare and the Coming (Not Again?) Wealth Transfer

Wed, Mar 06, 2013, 11:05 am  //  Dick Conoboy

You are not likely to escape the coming transfer of $billions from your pocket to the health insurance industry. You will get little, if anything, in return.

4 comments; last on Apr 05, 2013

Legislation and Sausage

Tue, Mar 05, 2013, 4:20 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein it's even worse when the legislation is about sausage


Support our Troops - Ban Fireworks

Sun, Mar 03, 2013, 5:17 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

Do we need to recreate the sounds and sights of the battlefield when doing so brings pain and suffering to our combat veterans?


Marine Sanctuary Standards

Sat, Mar 02, 2013, 9:03 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the ironies of life are explored and the necessities of life are contemplated

2 comments; last on Mar 12, 2013

Troubling Implications of Variance Request

Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 5:19 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A variance request pending before the City could create a loophole for developers seeking to avoid compliance with development standards.

5 comments; last on Mar 07, 2013


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