The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality this week “announced key milestones
and significant progress in moving the cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund
Site forward,” said an EPA press release.
“EPA recently reached agreements with
responsible parties for critical baseline sampling and for major “hot spot”
early cleanup actions in the most heavily contaminated areas of the river. In
addition, DEQ has completed work at 65 percent of the known upland sources of
pollution to the river, work that will ensure cleaned areas aren’t
re-contaminated,” the release said.
“We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made in
this first year implementing the Record of Decision for Portland Harbor and we
are committed to keeping up the momentum,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
“By cooperating with the state, the tribal nations, other federal partners and
the responsible parties, we will keep the cleanup moving toward our shared
goals of reducing risks to people and the environment, and returning the Lower
Willamette to a healthier and more vital working waterway for all.”
“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made this
year removing pollution sources and completing hot spot cleanups along the
river,” said DEQ Director Richard Whitman. “A cleaner harbor will protect
communities that rely on the river and set the stage for Portland to re-emerge
as a vital river city, bringing new jobs and opportunity to Oregonians.”
In January 2017, EPA issued the Record of
Decision, or final cleanup plan, for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, a
10-mile stretch of the Lower Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
“The cleanup will reduce health risks to
people, fish, and wildlife, and set the stage for commercial and industrial
redevelopment and revitalization of the river and waterfront that runs through
the economic heart of Portland,” says EPA.
EPA recently announced that Portland Harbor is
one of 21 priority Superfund sites across the country targeted by the EPA
Administrator’s Superfund Task Force for immediate and intense attention.
The press release lists highlights of EPA’s
cleanup accomplishments this year:
-- Reached agreement with responsible parties
for sampling and cleanup design plans for the Gasco/Siltronic early action
cleanup and continued negotiations on agreements for other Early Action Areas,
including the River Mile 11 East area. Focused on highest priority and highest
risk areas, hot spot cleanups are expected to start in two to three years.
-- Developed a framework for a site-wide
sampling plan to update site conditions and refine the active cleanup area
-- Reached agreement with a Pre-Remedial
Design group of responsible parties to conduct most of the site-wide baseline
sampling to help inform and focus the site-wide cleanup designs (agreement is
available online at https://semspub.epa.gov/work/10/100077191.pdf).
-- Expect baseline sampling data to aid the
allocation process by providing more certainty about cleanup costs as
responsible parties seek agreement on their relative shares of responsibility
for the cleanup.
Under a 2001 Memorandum of Understanding, EPA
manages the cleanup of the in-river areas of the site and DEQ is responsible
for the “upland” portion, the contaminated lands along the river. DEQ is
investigating and cleaning up contaminated sites along the river uplands to
identify and eliminate sources of pollution that can move into the river.
To date, DEQ has completed work on about 65
percent, or 110 out of 173, of identified sites needing pollution control, and
is actively working on 54 other sites. These source control efforts will ensure
that cleaned up areas aren’t re-contaminated and that the cleanup is effective
over the long term. DEQ cleanup sites and activities can be found on an
interactive Portland Harbor Map.
The press release lists highlights of DEQ’s
cleanup accomplishments this year:
-- Completed cleanup actions at five of six
contaminated sediment sites in the Downtown Reach, the 5-mile segment upriver
of Portland Harbor at Station L, Ross Island Lagoon, Zidell, River Mile 13.1
and River Mile 13.5.
-- Issued a Record of Decision for the former
Portland Gas Manufacturing site near the Steel Bridge earlier this year with
cleanup work expected to occur in 2019.
-- Conducted sediment investigation in the
10-mile segment above the Downtown Reach with $100K in EPA grant funding.
Additional sampling in the Downtown Reach is planned in early 2018 to resolve
remaining data gaps.
-- Began working with EPA, tribes and
community groups in the Willamette River Toxics Reduction Partnership to
identify and assess potential sources of contamination in the Willamette River
watershed upriver from Portland Harbor.
The Portland Harbor Site spans 10 miles of the
Lower Willamette River. The river sediments, surface water, and the fish that
reside in the harbor have high levels of PCBs, PAHs, dioxins/furans, DDT and
other pesticides which present an unacceptable risk to people’s health,
especially subsistence and tribal fishers, and to the environment.
The final cleanup plan, released in January
2017, resulted from over 16 years of intensive study and the input EPA received
from more than 5,000 public comments.
Under the cleanup plan, contaminated sediments
at the site will be addressed through dredging, capping, enhanced natural
recovery, and monitored natural recovery. Approximately 394 acres of sediment,
out of 2,190 total acres in the site, will be actively remediated with dredging
and capping, including removal of over three million cubic yards of
Approximately 1,774 acres of the site with
lower contaminant levels are expected to recover naturally over time, says the
press release. Active cleanup construction work is expected to take about 13
years and cost $1 billion. Following the active cleanup construction phase, EPA
expects a 100-fold reduction in contamination-related cancer and other serious
risks. The river’s natural recovery process will further reduce these risks.
-- CBB, Dec. 15, 2017, “Portland Harbor On
List Of EPA Superfund Sites Targeted For ‘Immediate, Intense’ Attention” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439944.aspx