AAPA Seaports Advisory

Maritime Economic Development: Bellingham

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Bellingham: Port Authorizes Major Improvements to Fairhaven Shipyard

The Port of Bellingham has awarded a $12.5 million environmental cleanup, which will result in major improvements to 7.66 acres of Fairhaven marine industrial property. The multi-year project will clean-up historic contamination, improve marine habitat and modernize aging infrastructure, allowing long-time tenant Fairhaven Shipyard to expand operations and hire new employees.

"Fairhaven Shipyard provides over 100 family-wage jobs to our community and is an important part of the regional marine trades economy" said Port Commission President Dan Robbins. "We are pleased to make the infrastructure investments necessary to allow Fairhaven Shipyard to expand operations and create new family-wage jobs for Whatcom County residents."

The Fairhaven industrial property has been used as a shipyard since the early 1900s and portions of the site are contaminated by historic industrial activities. The port worked with the Washington State Department of Ecology and Fairhaven Shipyard to develop a cleanup plan which is both protective of human health and the environment and supports long-term use of the property by the working waterfront.

Among other things, the plan calls for the removal of a 400-foot section of creosote-treated wooden pier to allow dredging of the contaminated sediments underneath. Following cleanup, a state-of-the-art concrete pier will replace the wooden pier which is both better for the environment and will allow Fairhaven Shipyard to work on bigger ships.

"Increasing the load capacity of the shipyard pier and improving the site layout will allow us to expand Fairhaven Shipyard’s services and capabilities" said Neil Turney, president of the shipyard parent company Puglia Engineering. "Whatcom County has a great tradition as a maritime community and we look forward to growing our business and continuing to be part of the economic development of the region."

A building and pier constructed in the early 1900s as part of a fish cannery will be demolished to allow clean-up underlying contaminated sediments underneath. The removal of 10,000 square feet of overwater coverage will help restore marine nearshore habitat in support of salmon recovery efforts.

The port has partnered with the Washington State Department of Ecology to secure state cleanup grants to pay for half of the required $12.5 million in cleanup work.

Marine trades industries have a vital role in providing family-wage jobs and growing the local economy. An economic impact study of Bellingham port operations found that marine trades tenant activity in Whatcom County supports over 2,600 direct jobs, $122 million in direct income and provides over $18 million in taxes.

Fairhaven Shipyard provides full dry-docking capabilities and support services to a variety of public and private vessels, including Washington and Alaska State ferries, and U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA vessels, among others.  The shipyard is equipped with a 3,200-ton capacity dry dock, a 20,000 ton lift capacity semi-submersible dry-dock barge, a 400 ton lift capacity marine railway, a 140-ton capacity land crane, a 65-ton capacity floating crane, and other mobile cranes.

This project will be staged over several years to meet state and federal timing restrictions for in-water construction to avoid or minimize impacts to Endangered Species Act-listed species and their habitat.

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