March 27, 2024

Mike Hogan
(360) 676-2500

Port Approves Lease Termination Agreement with ABC Recycling due to Environmental Concerns

ABC Recycling to remove metal from Bellingham’s waterfront and shut down operations

ABC Recycling will permanently shut down operations on Bellingham’s waterfront due to ongoing concerns about ABC’s ability to comply with the terms of their lease, especially environmental standards. The Port Commission approved a lease termination agreement with ABC Recycling this afternoon.

“We are unhappy to lose any employer which supports Union labor and family-wage jobs,” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “But metal is a challenging cargo which requires expensive engineering controls to protect water quality. While ending a lease is never an easy decision, safeguarding the environment will always remain our top priority.”

ABC Recycling has until June 30, 2024 to remove all scrap metal from the waterfront. The metal will be loaded onto two cargo vessels and the Port will enforce enhanced environmental measures to protect water quality.

ABC started operations in June 2022 on land reserved for job-creating uses next to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal. ABC anticipated loading metal onto cargo vessels every 4-6 weeks using ILWU labor, but so far has loaded only 4 vessels. ABC’s departure creates new opportunities to reactivate the land with more job intensive uses. 

“We know how important the working waterfront is to Whatcom County,” said Fix. “The Shipping Terminal is unique in that it can generate family-wage jobs from various skill sets and expertise which do not require a college degree. The Port is making significant investments to modernize the Shipping Terminal and there are a number of companies who are now interested in using the terminal to ship cargo like cars and construction equipment. We will redouble our efforts to secure industries which align with our sustainability goals, put our longshoremen and marine trades people to work, and foster economic prosperity throughout the region.”

The Bellingham Shipping Terminal is one of only 11 deep-water ports in Washington State. A recent study from the Washington Maritime Federation pegs the economic impact of Washington maritime industries at nearly $46 billion and over 170,000 jobs. In 2022, Washington ports handled the import and export of 55.5 Billion tons of non-containerized cargo such as automobiles, windmills and grain worth $36.5 Billion.

Throughout Whatcom County, the Port manages over 1,600 acres of land and leases property to over 250 tenants. 

“There is no doubt Washington can be a challenging regulatory environment,” said Fix. “But we have many companies on Port land which set the standard for industrial operations using responsible business practices and state-of-the-art stormwater controls. An active Shipping Terminal is central to our community’s vision of a vibrant, mixed-use waterfront, and we will find the right job-creating industries to serve as the backbone of our regional economy.” 

About the Port of Bellingham

The Port is a countywide municipal corporation with a mission to fulfill the essential transportation and economic development needs of the region. Throughout Whatcom County, the Port owns, operates and maintains approximately 1600 acres of property including a shipping terminal, a cruise terminal, two marinas, industrial development areas, commercial uplands, parklands, shoreline public access areas and an international airport. For more information about the Port of Bellingham, please visit

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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