The British Columbia scrap metal recycling company which has been the subject of noise complaints at the Port of Bellingham’s shipping terminal is reportedly looking to expand its operations along Bellingham Bay by building an industrial metal shredder facility.
Resource in Focus, a trade publication specializing in the North American resource industry, reported in February that ABC Recycling would continue to invest in the Washington marketplace with a metal shredding operation, quoting ABC Recycling vice president of sales and marketing Randy Kahlon.
Kahlon told Focus that the metal recycling company is in preliminary stages to get a shredder operational for 2024, and that it had purchased a large chunk of land in Bellingham, close to the port, as the final stage of their metal recycling operations in North America.
According to Whatcom County Assessor records, ABC Recycling purchased a 19.69-acre parcel in 2021 along Marine Drive adjacent to Locust Beach and the Lehigh cement plant from Lehigh Northwest Cement Co. for $3.57 million.
Andy Anderson, ABC Recycling vice president of U.S. operations, told Salish Current that the company isn’t willing to share any information regarding the Marine Drive site because their internal business plan information is confidential.
Denise Massey Smith, Whatcom County development and planning services administrative manager, said the county hasn’t received any permit or pre-applications from ABC Recycling for use of the Marine Drive property.
ABC Recycling, which has a 15-year operating lease with the Port of Bellingham, began last October loading scrap metal onto barges at the shipping terminal every six to eight weeks in shifts from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. in a process that lasts around four days and nights.
The next loading operation will begin in June or July, said Mike Hogan, public affairs administrator of the Port of Bellingham. Hogan said that the Marine Drive property is not within the port’s jurisdiction and had nothing to say about it.
Much like the South Hill neighbors who’ve complained about the shipping terminal metal recycling operations, Marine Drive neighbors have similar concerns.
Arlene Dangelmaier, who lives on the corner of Marine Drive and Locust Avenue near the 19-plus-acre parcel is worried about the excessive noise a shredder might make.
Industrial scrap metal shredders come in various sizes and are used to reduce large metal objects such as automobiles into smaller, more manageable and transportable pieces. Using a variety of processes from hammering to cutting, the shredding process breaks down metal and sorts it.
A shredding facility would expand the company’s ability to recycle more scrap metal, but could bring disruptive noise to the waterfront, which Dangelmaier worries will deter visitors from accessing areas like Locust Beach.
At the port shipping terminal, loading operations noise has been recorded below the city of Bellingham’s noise limits and a variety of noise dampening efforts have been used, although resident continue to complain.
“To me, it doesn’t seem compatible with developing the waterfront for the people of Bellingham,” Dangelmaier said. “I don’t feel that’s a good choice. People apparently are complaining that we don’t really have a lot of bay access. That’s a conflict.”
Dangelmaier has lived across from Locust Beach since the ’60s, longer than any of her neighbors. Recently, she’s seen the vacant area near the old cement plant become a hub for houseless folks and activity that she believes could involve drug deals.
Dangelmaier said many of her neighbors would like to see the area become a park or include some public access, to match increasing recreational activity in the area.
The area “is popular for cycling and recreation. Parades and various things go up and down Marine Drive,” she said.
Dangelmaier and other area residents haven’t heard of any plans for a metal shredder yet, but expect to see a notice in their mail from the County if plans were to go forward. “I hope that we are notified about what they plan,” Dangelmaier said.
“Port promises to dampen loading noise in wake of complaints,” Salish Current, Jan. 26, 2023
“Ship-loading noise tests Bellingham port’s neighborliness,” Salish Current, Jan. 13, 2023
— Reported by Kai Uyehara