The U.S. EPA has released its final cleanup plan, called a Record of Decision, for 10 miles of the Lower Willamette River within the Portland Harbor Superfund Site which runs through the economic heart of Portland, Oregon.
EPA’s final plan, or ROD, addresses contaminated sediments through dredging, capping, enhanced natural recovery and monitored natural recovery, including removal of over three million cubic yards of contaminated sediments.
The ROD also addresses contaminated groundwater that could re-contaminate the river and river banks. Approximately 1.774 acres of the site with lower contaminant levels are expected to recover naturally over time.
Active cleanup work at the site is now expected to take as much as 13 years and cost approximately $1 billion.
“This is a very strong cleanup plan, thanks in large part to the quality of the public comments we received,” said Dennis McLerran, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
“Under the final plan, we’ll be removing more contaminated sediment sooner, which means risks will be lower and the river will be safer faster. Input from the public, tribes, state and local government, environmental groups and business and industry helped us hone our plan and make it more responsive to people’s concerns. We have been working very closely with Oregon DEQ on the final remedy and with state and EPA leadership. The stage is now set for cleanup work to begin in earnest.”
Last Spring, the EPA released a Proposed Plan and received over 5.000 public comments, nearly 90 percent of which called for more robust cleanup measures than those outlined in the proposal.
Compared to the Proposed Plan, the final plan:
- Further reduces health risks to people, fish, and wildlife sooner by dredging and/or capping 365 acres of contaminated sediment, 100 acres more than in the Proposed Plan;
- Will make it safer for people to eat more resident fish more often and sooner;
- Streamlines the process to get more “early action” cleanups underway;
- Achieves cleanup goals sooner, providing more certainty for commercial and industrial development;
- Provides pathways for reducing costs by following up on comments such as identifying an upland disposal site in closer proximity to Portland Harbor and by updating land use assumptions.