Weldcraft Steel & Marine Boatyard Cleanup

Metal Debris
In 2003, the Port of Bellingham began a $4.1 million cleanup of the former site of the Weldcraft Steel and Marine Boatyard. The site was polluted with debris from an old marine railway, as well as 6,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with zinc, copper, and other heavy metals - remnants of a metallic paint compound applied to the bottoms of boats to prevent barnacles and other sea creatures from affixing themselves to hulls. The paint was regularly scraped off and reapplied as a part of normal boat maintenance, allowing paint flecks laden with heavy metals to sink to the bottom of the bay.

Habitat Restoration
The port also used the dredged mud to create a “habitat bench” - a two-acre area of mud flats just outside the Squalicum Harbor breakwater - designed to be more hospitable to fish and other forms of marine life. This part of the project was actually quite similar to the steps the port had undertaken during the 1998-2000 Blaine Harbor reconstruction, in which dredged mud and clay was used to form an underwater island to create a better habitat for eelgrass, plankton, juvenile salmon, and waterfowl.

In 2005, tests of the 15-acre Blaine underwater island showed that the project was indeed a glowing success, and that the eelgrass was thriving. Moreover, in October of 2005, the American Association of Port Authorities presented the Port of Bellingham with a national award for environmental mitigation based on the port’s work at the former Weldcraft Site.

Marine Park
The Marine Park at Fairhaven was re-opened in 2005 with a newly restored soft shoreline. The $420,000 restoration project, funded by the port and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, removed materials such as creosote piles, rebar, and old asphalt paths from the hard shore and re-engineered a gently sloping natural beach more hospitable to human use and animal habitation alike. Marine Park’s beach was later selected as the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association’s winner of the 2009 Best Restored Beach Award.