Lummis object to bay cleanup plans

The Bellingham Herald reports that the Lummi Nation opposes the Port of Bellingham’s plan to leave some mercury in Bellingham Bay and build a marina:

Mercury-tainted sediment now inside the lagoon will be removed for landfill disposal, as will some of the more contaminated areas at the mouth of the waterway, where the dredging will add water depth to accommodate ships at the port’s marine terminal.

But in the inner portions of the waterway, Ecology officials agreed with port consultants’ findings that mercury deposited decades ago has already been partially buried by natural sediment buildup, and the environment can be protected by capping it with additional deposits of clean material.

Hillaire’s statement contended that leaving some mercury in the bay could pose a risk to tribe members, some of whom get a large portion of their food supply from the bay. “The Lummi Nation is not convinced that the proposed cleanup will protect the public health and safety of tribal members due to the substantially greater amounts of fish consumed by tribal members relative to the non-Indian population in Washington state and the resulting associated risks posed by the contaminated sediments,” Hillaire’s statement said.

Lummi Nation also opposes using the lagoon for a marina. Hillaire’s statement said the tribe would prefer to see the marina’s giant breakwater removed so that the area can be restored to its former status as a tide flat that could provide fish habitat. The marina would also encourage boat traffic that interferes with tribal fishing operations, he added.