Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bellingham Port Inks Site Cleanup Deal With Oil Firms

Officials from the Washington-state Port of Bellingham and three oil firms have worked out a preliminary deal to clean up a contaminated parcel of port-owned property.

The site, located at 2801 Roeder Ave. near Squalicum Harbor, has operated as a bulk fueling terminal by various operators for more than 70 years.

The facility is currently operated by the Bellingham-based Yorkston Oil Co., Inc., which owns and operates Yorky's markets in Whatcom County, Washington, Commercial Fuel Network sites in Whatcom and Skagit counties, distributes to unbranded dealers, and serves numerous independent and commercial accounts with heating fuels, industrial/motor oils, marine fuels, and on- and off-road fuels.

The port has worked out a cleanup cost-sharing deal with Yorkston, and previous facility operators Chevron and ExxonMobil. Under the terms of the preliminary deal, Yorkston will pay 40.5 percent of the cleanup, Chevron 36.9 percent, ExxonMobil 12.6 percent and the port 10 percent.

While port officials cite no evidence that ground contamination from the facility have leeched into Squalicum Creek, the Bellingham Herald reports that previous studies have found fuel-related materials in the soil and groundwater on the site. These environmental investigations, the Herald reports, are high enough to trigger a mandatory cleanup under Washington state environmental laws.

Port officials said that the cleanup project is likely to cost in the neighborhood of $1 million and take several years to complete. Yorkston will continue operating at the site during the cleanup.