Portland Harbor Superfund Agreement ‘In Principle’ Considered By State, City, EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced an agreement in principle with the city of Portland and state of Oregon to help fund cleanup plans for the 10-mile Portland Harbor Superfund.

The site is on the EPA administrator’s national Superfund emphasis list for intense and accelerated effort.

Also on Friday, the state of Oregon and the city of Portland proposed “a new partnership for a safer, cleaner Willamette River, ushering in the next phase of the Portland Harbor cleanup work. This phase includes finalization of cleanup designs, which serve as blueprints and workplans for site cleanup.”

In December, the EPA announced that the entire Portland Harbor Superfund site must meet certain milestones toward cleanup design by the end of 2019. “The state and city have proposed a unique approach that efficiently leverages public investment to encourage private parties to jump-start design work,” said a press release from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Under this proposal, the city and state will each contribute up to $12 million to a trust, for a total of up to $24 million, that will provide $80,000 per acre as their contribution to the design work. EPA will credit the state and city against their respective responsibilities for each dollar spent from the trust.

The per-acre funds are accessible to parties who sign agreements with EPA to generate cleanup designs by the end of the year, and those parties remain responsible for all costs above and beyond the $80,000 per acre.

“By pooling and capping public resources, the state and city funds will be spent on actual cleanup design work as opposed to administrative costs associated with negotiating and participating at multiple locations, improving efficiency and effectiveness of public dollars. This is a creative and unique approach among Superfund sites and represents a significant step forward toward the cleanup of the harbor,” said the press release.

“Our waters and our lands are some of our most precious resources, and this project will help ensure that they will be enjoyed by generations to come,” said Brown. “It’s a great example of how working together brings forward cost-effective solutions.”

“We are proud to partner with the State of Oregon on this exciting approach,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler, “and we appreciate EPA’s willingness to think outside the box with us. We look forward to continued progress toward a healthy, working river.”

This proposal goes to the City Council on May 15, 2019.

“This agreement with the city of Portland and the state of Oregon represents another important milestone in our progress toward cleaning up the Lower Willamette River,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.  “With today’s agreement, the city and state are showing strong leadership and commitment to moving the cleanup forward. We hope all responsible parties will step up to take advantage of this unique funding opportunity. This agreement reflects EPA’s commitment to prioritize the Superfund program and ensure these sites are cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.”

EPA placed the Portland Harbor Superfund Site on the Superfund National Priorities List in 2000. In 2017, EPA issued the Record of Decision or final cleanup plan for the site, a 10-mile stretch of the Lower Willamette River, located in Portland, Oregon. Active cleanup construction work is expected to take approximately 13 years and cost approximately $1 billion.

Find more information about Portland Harbor at www.epa.gov/superfund/portland-harbor

Also see:

— CBB, Dec. 22, 2017, “EPA, Oregon DEQ Announce ‘Milestones’ And ‘Progress’ On Portland Harbor Superfund Cleanup” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439965.aspx

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