Cornet Bay cleanup finally funded

Dundee Woods, whose family owns Deception Pass Marina, is glad the wait is finally about over for a soil and groundwater cleanup on the site of the marina. The Washington Department of Ecology could start the project in October. - Ron Newberry / Whidbey News-Times
Dundee Woods, whose family owns Deception Pass Marina, is glad the wait is finally about over for a soil and groundwater cleanup on the site of the marina. The Washington Department of Ecology could start the project in October.
— image credit: Ron Newberry / Whidbey News-Times

Dundee Woods knew this day was coming.

The quiet, peaceful world that surrounds him at the Deception Pass Marina in Cornet Bay is about to get rocked.

But when the earth moves, it will release a little of his anxiety as well.

“I’m really happy to have this get behind me,” said Woods, part owner of the marina with his father Milton Woods.

“It’ll be nice to move forward.”

If all goes as planned, the state Department of Ecology will be orchestrating a three-month soil removal and groundwater cleanup project at the marina starting in October.

The site cleanup, which is estimated to cost more than $1 million, was earmarked after tests showed that soil and groundwater on the property was contaminated by petroleum after several fuel line releases in 1989.

Milton Woods covered his end of a 1993 agreement with the state by replacing the fuel lines and underground tank at his marina.

Under the agreement, the Department of Ecology would conduct site studies and handle the cleanup.

However, the state didn’t receive sufficient funding for the cleanup until this year.

The proposal includes demolishing the existing timber bulkhead at the marina and replacing it with a new sheet pile wall made of steel.

Then, the state will tackle contaminated soil removal, which will require lifting the Woods’ general store and moving it to get at the soil underneath.

The excavated soil will be taken to a permitted disposal facility and replaced by clean soil.

Stormwater from the construction site will be collected and treated on-site before being discharged into Cornet Bay.

“Now the planets have aligned and it’s going to happen,” Woods said.

There’s still one more step before the heavy machinery arrives.

The last remaining step before cleanup is a public comment period that has started and continues through Aug. 26.

Currently, no public meeting is planned for the project.

Such a meeting would be held if 10 or more people requested it, said Jing Liu, site manager for the Department of Ecology.

Dundee Woods, who became a partner in the family business about 15 years ago, said the Department of Ecology has been drilling and testing the soil on their property for about a decade.

He said funding issues always prevented the cleanup from moving forward until two months ago when Liu told him the project was a go.

The project will impact Deception Pass Marina and boaters who rely on the marina for diesel and gasoline.

Although ramps will be built to allow marina customers to access docks and get to their boats, fuel tanks will be shut down during the project and the general store will be closed.

The store will be moved across the property during one phase of the project before eventually being returned to its current site.

Woods said that since the project doesn’t start until his business’ offseason in October, he really can’t complain.

“We’re so fortunate the Ecology people waited until our season is over.”

“That’s huge,” he said. “The Department of Ecology people have been wonderful to work with.”

When the project is completed, an estimated 8,400 cubic yards of contaminated dirt will have been removed, according to Liu.

One of the biggest issues that caused a sense of urgency for the project was the aging, deteriorating timber bulkhead, which contains creosote. The Department of Ecology feared the wall could fail, causing contaminated soil to enter Cornet Bay.

Dundee Woods is hoping by January he’ll be staring at a new steel seawall and seeing his mom Tuulikki back in the general store working on Wednesdays.

“She keeps the store spotless,” he said.

Woods said his chief concern is trying to minimize any inconvenience to his customers and the community.

“We’re doing everything we can to make this painless,” he said.


The public may review the project documents at the Oak Harbor and Anacortes public libraries, the Department of Ecology’s regional office in Bellevue or view them by going online at the department’s toxics cleanup website  at

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