Thursday, May 10, 2012

Asbestos Sediment Piles at Swift Creek

I was out in the Everson/Nooksack area and stopped by the lower reach of Swift Creek. Whatcom County recently purchased a property adjacent to the creek in part to have a location to place dredged sediment from the creek in an effort to keep a road open. The following picture is the view of the most recent sediment pile from the former home site.

Dredged sediment near Swift Creek east of Nooksack, WA

The juxtaposition of the swing set and a large pile of asbestos containing silt and sand suggests that this purchase of land avoided more than simply a county stream crossing problem.

The volume of asbestos laden sediment that has been pile up along the creek the past few years is at a remarkable scale. The sediment will continue to come down the creek. 

Ridges of dredged sediment along Swift Creek viewed from South Pass Road

Swift Creek from Oat Cole Road bridge 

Cloudy water from very fine grained clay

Not all of the sediment is deposited and then dredged from the creek. Fine silt and clay continues to be carried downstream into the very slow meandering Sumas River. The Sumas flows north into Canada where the silt and clay poses problems to drainage in the farm land of the lower Sumas valley. The Canadian section of the Sumas River was formerly a lake and the maintenance of that lake requires pumping. The sediment loads cause problems for the pumps as well as the overall drainage systems of this high quality farm land.

View of Swift Creek and Sumas Mountain, the source of the asbestos sediment within the Swift Creek landslide

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