Eagle Harbor is a small embayment located on the eastern side of Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County, Washington, in central Puget Sound. The bay is about two square kilometers in area. Historically the shoreline and area surrounding Eagle Harbor has had various industrial uses. In the early 1900’s a large shipyard was started by the Hall brothers and at that time was the largest ship-building facility on the West Coast. A brick yard was established in the late 1800’s and the first wood treating facility began before 1910. The largest industry on Bainbridge Island was the Wyckoff Company wood-treating plant on the south shore at the entrance to Eagle Harbor, which began operations in 1903. Wood treatment operations ceased at Wyckoff in 1988, and the site is currently not used.
Investigations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Washington State Department of Ecology (WDEC), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that sediments and clams in Eagle Harbor were contaminated with poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. PAHs are a component of fuel oil and creosote, which is used for wood treatment. Heavy metals were deposited into the harbor from sandblasting paint from boats and ships. A mercury contamination “hot spot” was discovered nearby during a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study. NOAA also found PAH accumulation and lesions in the liver tissue of English Sole, a bottom fish commonly found in Eagle Harbor.
In 1985, the Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District issued a health advisory against eating shellfish from Eagle Harbor because of chemical and bacterial contamination. The Wyckoff facility and approximately 500 acres in Eagle Harbor was proposed as a Superfund site in 1985 and was listed on the National Priority List (NPL) in 1987.
EPA and the Natural Resource Trustees entered into a Memorandum of Agreement, in which the Trustees were to develop restoration goals for the site. If the goals were not met by remedial actions, the Trustees would receive funds in order to undertake restoration for injured natural resources and services. The goals developed by the Trustees were not met, so funds were provided to the Trustees to conduct restoration actions on Bainbridge Island, including the nearshore areas. The purpose of these actions was to restore critical habitats in Eagle Harbor by building restoration projects in order to compensate the public and environment for injuries resulting from the release of hazardous substances into Eagle Harbor, Kitsap County, WA.