Port of Bellingham gave millions to AIG

We local taxpayers have contributed $20 million of our own tax dollars to AIG’s executives. Remember? A couple years ago the Port bought an insurance policy from AIG to cover possible over costs from cleaning up the Georgia Pacific waterfront site. It had a $20 million dollar premium. Which comes directly from our local Bellingham and Whatcom County property taxes.

What is worse is the wording of this “insurance” policy. AIG took the Port - and us. Scammed us small town folks. The conditions of the policy are such that AIG will never be required to pay anything to us. And soon AIG will be renamed and possibly reconstituted and continue on its merry way - with our money serving them nicely but of no value to us.

Ours is just one of the many “insurance” plans AIG sold that it cannot cover. Don’t expect the government bailout to help us. We are not vital to the health of our national financial system. We are probably on our own.

Gee - you find this hard to believe? The Herald hasn’t told you? Well, don’t look now but your local newspaper has never been very good good at telling you the news or giving you common sense perspective on it. A long tradition. In the early 1950s the Herald cooperated with Mobil Oil in not reporting that Mobile was buying up farms at Cherry Point on the cheap through a local real estate broker - who was, of course, keeping secret from the farmers who his client was. When all the farmers had been bought out then the Herald proudly ran a front page headline with the news that Mobil Oil would build a refinery here. Printing this news earlier would have allowed the farmers to get a better price for their land. The Herald even bragged that they kept the information secret.

Ahh - but this is about our tax dollars and AIG. The conditions of our insurance are that the Port must defend in court against any effort by anyone to have all that toxic mercury cleaned up. Yep - lots of clauses like that to allow AIG to never have to pay. Your elected, currently serving, Port Commissioners bought that. Walker, Smith and Jorgensen. Anyone want to run for Port this year?

Why would the Port act as such losers on such a deal? To silence local critics who said the waterfront was too expensive to clean up. The Herald ran nice Port propaganda articles at the time. Ooops, I’m straying back to the Herald.

Gentle reader, our waterfront is a toxic mess - worse than Love Canal. Mercury? We have tons of it there and the Port plans to use untested and half baked methods of covering it. Tens of tons of toxic mercury. Their test coverings of a few years ago failed - but the Herald didn’t tell you about that either. In the future the excuse will be something like “Gee, we didn’t realize at the time. We have learned so much more since those early years around 2009”. Something like that. Just bull.

Finally there is our state Department of Ecology - which for over 15 years has been avoiding any tests where the mercury is concentrated. They have cooperated in first enabling GP to poison us and now for the Port to poison us and our children and our grandchildren. All while the Port just blows our money away on a bogus insurance policy.

Find all this hard to believe? Check this link - and ask questions at the next Port meeting. And, if you think any of these statements are not completely correct, then comment and set me straight.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Tip Johnson

Mar 21, 2009

Between AIG and G-P, the Port agreed to accept the lowest cost remedial alternative, to pay for anything over and above, not to prospect for additional environmental liabilities and to defend G-P against any claims. AIG is not even the worst of it.

But that’s another story!


Jeffrey Schmidt

Mar 22, 2009

ive been waiting for you to connect aig and the port, john…....you have been awfully “soft” with the port of late. i miss your “port watch” website


Doug Karlberg

Mar 23, 2009

The Port’s agreement to not pursue any further investigation of where the mercury went, is morally reprehensible. Potentially criminal.

The first and foremost responsibility of any public entity is public safety. Mercury is a poison.

We know it is missing. Where is it? Agreeing to not “look” for it, should not have been signed off on by DOE or the Port. One has to wonder what the Port’s legal representation was thinking.

If the cover up plan now in place fails, and begins to leak, then the value of this land will plummet and the hew and cry to fix the problem in an emergency action, will be un-Godly expensive.

GP sold this supposedly valuable land to the Port for $10. Common sense tells you that there were hidden dangers, and when GP agreed with the Port Commissioners to not look for any more pollutions, it does not take a rocket scientist to suspect that something is being hidden.

That something is a poison.

Since when do responsible public officials hide poisons from the public?

If these poisons are discovered in the future, the liabilities from this monumental failure of responsibility will ensnare not only the Port, but Whatcom County, the City of Bellingham, DOE, GP, law firms, the bought off Huxley, and most importantly all of us as taxpayers. Like most government fiascos, we will end up with the bill for this irresponsible decision.

The City of Bellingham’s decision to sue and squash a citizens Initiative to vote on the clean up of this project, just earned the City and its taxpayers a seat at the liability table. Huxleys’ role has earned WWU a seat at the table with their friends at Port management.

Did I say Port management? Whoops, they will be long gone, when the final bill for this fiasco comes due.

All of this risk for a marina, which will neither benefit the local community much, nor as oil gets more expensive, is needed. Demand for yachts is plummeting.

Marinas don’t make money, but this marina will cost approximately $800,000 per government job created.

Most of the Ports on the West Coast are focusing on land based dry storage of boats, rather than this Yacht Harbor for the elite few, and hiding poisons to accomplish it no less.

This is the Port of Bellingham in action.

Does this make sense to you?

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