Crews begin work to contain oil leak on Bellingham waterfront

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - A slowly leaking oil seep on Bellingham's waterfront has left a sheen on Bellingham Bay for nearly a year. Starting next week, crews will lay 5,000 square feet of clay and sand on top of the R.G. Haley cleanup site in an effort to better contain the oil.

The 6-acre site, located near Cornwall Avenue and Wharf Street, is one of 12 locations included in the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot project - a long-term project designed to clean up contamination and pollution sources and help restore land and water habitats along the bay.

The R.G. Haley site was primarily used for lumber, coal and wharf operations during the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, past test results at the site show soil and groundwater in the area is contaminated with wood treatment chemicals that are leaking into the bay.

The Department of Ecology says the clay and sand layer will provide a temporary fix until the site-wide cleanup starts in 2015.

Most of the work will be done during the night in November when the tides are supposed to be the lowest.

The clay and sand layer will be placed inside a rock berm and covered with gravel to protect it from winter weather.

Absorbent pads and a boom were deployed at the site in an attempt to contain the oil leak since it was first discovered in December 2012.