EPA Proposes Changes to Portland Cleanup Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to the cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site, a 10-mile stretch of the Lower Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.

The proposed changes are based on updated research on one of the chemicals targeted for cleanup. The changes will result in reduced cleanup costs and a slightly smaller cleanup area where benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is the risk driver,” EPA said in its release.

Based on the updated health risk information, EPA is proposing to change the cPAH cleanup levels in the river’s beaches and nearshore sediments.

The new cleanup levels will require less sediment dredging and capping. Due to these changes, the cleanup area is expected to be reduced by about 17 acres out of the total 2,200 acres, and cost about $35 million less than the original $1 billion cleanup estimate.

EPA is taking public comment on the proposed changes through December 21, 2018.


The Portland Harbor Superfund site covers approximately 2,200 acres of the Willamette River from river mile 1.9 to river mile 11.8. The site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 2000, due to high levels of contaminants in the river sediments, water, and fish, which pose a risk to people’s health, especially for subsistence and tribal fishers.

In 2017, EPA issued a cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.

Active cleanup construction, including dredging, capping, and natural recovery of contaminated sediments, is expected to take about 13 years.

EPA expects the cleanup to result in a 100-fold reduction in contamination-related cancer risk and other serious risks, and the river’s natural recovery process will further reduce these risks.

Photo: Image source: USACE