|Whatcom Creek Pipeline Explosion|
|More Than a Decade of Healing|
Initial response actions focused on collecting field data on fish, wildlife and insect mortality. Crews determined that no aquatic life survived the spill downstream from the rupture. Emergency Restoration began soon after the initial response.
When the gasoline exploded, all of the water in Hannah Creek and most of the water in Whatcom Creek was vaporized. This resulted in gasoline constituents being “pounded” into the stream substrate and subsequently leaching into the stream whenever the substrate was disturbed. The solution was to shut off the flow from the lake into Whatcom Creek, place an excavator in the stream and turn over every square foot of the streambed for the entire length of the burn zone.
As the streambed was restored, channel complexity and fish habitat features were built into the “new” channel. Several large wood structures used dead trees from the burn zone, some of which were felled to create safer working conditions for the restoration crews.
After it was determined the soils were minimally damaged and slope erosion potential was established, crews began replanting the burn zone riparian area with a mix of native trees and shrubs. Some regeneration of grasses and shrubs occurred in the summer of 1999 due in part to wet and warm weather.
The Restoration Settlement identified and funded two property acquisitions and two large restoration projects to mitigate the impacts to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as well as to park property and use.
Restoration activities have occurred on both of the acquired properties. The Boulder Bend property (formerly Jansen) was the site of several stream enhancement and habitat structure projects during the emergency restoration phase of the response.
Construction of off-channel habitat features and plantings at Red Tail Reach (formerly Haskell) was completed this year using funds left over from the projects initially funded by the Restoration Settlement, Salmon Park and Cemetery Creek (a Whatcom Creek tributary). Both of those projects were planted with native vegetation and also created off-channel habitat features.
To download the restoration summary report from the City of Bellingham click here