OESER CO
WASHINGTON
EPA ID# WAD008957243
EPA Region 10
Whatcom County
Bellingham

2nd Congressional District

Other Names: Little Squalicum Creek
Last Update: December, 2011

Hide details for Site DescriptionSite Description

The Oeser Company, located in a mixed residential and industrial area of Bellingham, prepares and treats wood poles for utility companies. Most of the approximately 23.5 acre site is used to store treated and untreated logs. The wood-treating plant covers about three acres of the site. Creosote, which contains semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), has been used as a wood treating preservative in the past. Since the 1970's, oil containing pentachlorophenol (PCP) has been the primary wood treating agent. The terrain at the site is relatively flat, but south of the site the terrain drops 30 to 40 feet into a ravine drained by Little Squalicum Creek. The creek is fed by storm water discharges from several outfalls serving a mixed residential and industrial area, including the Oeser Company's facility, and by groundwater. Little Squalicum creek flows into Bellingham Bay, a popular commercial fishery and shellfish harvesting area. Fish and other aquatic species are generally not found in Little Squalicum Creek due, in part, to elevated levels of contaminants from a variety of sources. Migratory birds, including peregrine falcons and bald eagles, and other wildlife make their homes in the area.

Site Responsibility: This site is being addressed through federal actions.

NPL Listing HistoryDates
Proposed Date:12/23/1996
Removed Date:
Withdrawal Date:
Final Date:09/25/1997
Deleted Date:


Hide details for Threats and ContaminantsThreats and Contaminants

Media Affected: Air, Environmentally Sensitive Area, Soil & Sludges
Over the years, creosote, PCP, and carrier oil have been released to the environment. Contamination is most severe in the wood-treatment area, where surface soil, subsurface soil, and groundwater are contaminated with these substances. PCP and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels of several hundred to several thousand parts per million (ppm) are common in subsurface soil, and a light non-aqueous phase liquid (presumably lost PCP solution) has been recovered from monitoring wells. Soil contaminated with PCP, PAHs, and carrier oil also has been found in other areas of the facility, and dioxin, a contaminant present in a commercial-grade PCP, has been found in facility surface soil.


Hide details for Cleanup ProgressCleanup Progress

Early Actions: A removal action was completed in September 1998 to help minimize worker exposure to contaminants and to reduce the threat of contamination migrating to the deep aquifer. Removal actions included fencing the site; removal of stored creosote (23,000 gallons); capping areas to prevent contact with contaminants and wind blown dust; excavation and transportation of approximately 8,500 tons of contaminated soil and 27,000 gallons of liquid waste off the site; capping the area of soil excavation; and, capping an area of dioxin contaminated soil.

Long Term Actions: As a fund lead project, EPA and its contractors completed the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study during the summer 2002. This work included sampling air, groundwater, off-facility and on-facility soils, and surface water and sediment from Little Squalicum Creek. A baseline risk assessment risk assessment was also conducted during the investigation. The Record of Decision (ROD) was finalized in September 2003. The selected remedy includes capping, excavation, institutional controls to limit groundwater use and non-industrial use, groundwater monitoring, and long term maintenance of the caps.

In 2006/2007, The Oeser Company capped on-site soils as identified in the ROD to eliminate direct contact exposure to workers from shallow soil contamination. In addition, two tanks containing excess creosote product from historic operations were drained, dismantled and disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations. Repairs were also completed on a damaged storm drain to eliminate this potential pathway of contaminant migration.

Since the ROD was issued, additional data has been gathered in the Little Squalicum Creek area portion of the Site as part of a remedial investigation conducted by the City of Bellingham pursuant to a Consent Order with the Washington State Department of Ecology. The remedial investigation was completed in 2008. The results of the remedial investigation showed that soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water in the area of Little Squalicum Creek contain contaminants including PCP and PAHs which are associated with stormwater drainage and wood-treating activities from Oeser. After reviewing the data, EPA has determined that a non-time-critical removal action to address those areas of the Little Squalicum Creek that exceed screening levels is appropriate. The removal action is planned for summer 2009.



Hide details for Regional ContactsRegional Contacts

SITE MANAGER(S):Howard Orlean
E-MAIL ADDRESS:orlean.howard@epa.gov
PHONE NUMBER:206-553-2851
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT COORDINATOR:Kay Morrison
E-MAIL ADDRESSmorrison.kay@epa.gov
PHONE NUMBER:206-553-8321
Information pertaining to this site is housed at the following location(s):
EPA Region 10 Superfund Records Center (Administrative Record)
1200 Sixth Avenue, ECL-076
Seattle, Washington 98101

City of Bellingham Library (Selected Documents)
210 Central
Bellingham, WA