Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

PORTLAND HARBOR
PORTLAND, OR

Cleanup Activities

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Background

Site Background

The Portland Harbor Superfund Site includes an in-river and an upland portion of the lower Willamette River, contaminated from decades of industrial use along the Willamette River. The Portland Harbor Superfund Site was added to EPA's National Priorities List in December 2000.

Water and sediment at the Portland Harbor Site are contaminated with many hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins/furans, pesticides and heavy metals. These compounds have been found to be harmful to people and the environment. Health risks at the site are great enough for cleanup to be needed under the Superfund law.

The Willamette River is an integral feature of the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, which is home to over 500,000 people. The harbor is an international portal for commerce; dozens of industries within the site provide economic sustainability to the community. The Lower Willamette is also a popular area for recreation, including fishing and boating. The river provides a critical migratory corridor and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead, including endangered runs of steelhead and chinook. The area holds great importance to several tribes as a natural and cultural resource.

Thank You for Attending! June 12, 2019 EPA Portland Harbor Public Forum (with support from DEQ & the CAG):  EPA, DEQ and the CAG hosted the last Portland Harbor Public Forum on Wednesday, June 12 at the Village Ballroom in NE Portland. Presentations from the Public Forum will be posted soon and a meeting summary will be available in the next few weeks. If you have any questions, please contact Laura Knudsen (knudsen.laura@epa.gov, 206-553-1838). Thank you!

Proposed Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD):  EPA released a proposed Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for a public comment period that ended on December 21, 2018. This 60-day comment period incorporated a 30-day extension request that EPA has granted. This proposed ESD documented EPA’s plan for changing some of the cleanup levels for one of the contaminants of concern (carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or cPAHs) in the selected remedy. An updated health risk assessment from EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System shows that benzo(a)pyrene or BaP (a type of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon or cPAH) is less toxic for people who contact or ingest the chemical than previously thought. EPA must consider how this updated information affects the final cleanup plan (also known as the Record of Decision or ROD) in the proposed ESD because cPAHs are a contaminant of concern for the Site.

The proposed ESD and related documents are listed below:

Final Portland Harbor Baseline Sampling Plan, December 2017: EPA reached an agreement with a group of responsible parties to conduct site-wide pre-remedial and baseline sampling. The objectives are to:

  • Implement investigation baseline sampling to update existing site-wide data;
  • Gather data to be used as part of a baseline data set for future long-term monitoring;
  • Inform certain analysis regarding scope and extent of remedial actions;
  • Collect data to facilitate completion of the third-party allocation by potentially responsible parties (this allocation process is independent of EPA oversight);
  • Assist in refining the scope and extent of the remedial actions that will be performed at the Site, including refining Sediment Management Areas, informing technology assignments consistent with the decision tree in the ROD (Figure 28) throughout the Site, and refining the horizontal and vertical extent of the dredging and capping areas;
  • Collect additional data regarding upstream conditions and contaminant loading into the Site; and
  • Update and evaluate site conditions to refine the conceptual site model for all pathways consistent with the Post-ROD Data Gathering (page 106).

A question & answer document, as well as the final legal agreement are below:

Community Information Session on January 10, 2018: EPA presented an overall update on the Portland Harbor Superfund Site that included an overview of the final site-wide baseline sampling plan that was recently signed with a Pre-Remedial Design group of responsible parties. The presentation also included a brief overview of early action area work and general community involvement updates. Materials from the presentation are below:

Background Information for Baseline Sampling Plan:  Prior to discussions with responsible parties on the final legal agreement and sampling plan posted above, EPA in collaboration with our regulatory partners and stakeholders prepared and presented a draft sampling plan in June 2017. These documents are provided below for background information:

Final Record of Decision for Portland Harbor, January 2017:  The EPA issued the Record of Decision (ROD) that selects the remedy for cleanup at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in January 2017. The Selected Remedy is a final action for the in-river portion of the site from approximately river mile 1.9 to 11.8. We selected Alternative F Modified as the final remedy. Alternative F Modified is designed to reduce risks to human health and the environment to acceptable levels and actively remediate (using dredging, capping, enhanced natural recovery, and monitored natural recovery) 394 acres of contaminated sediments and 23,305 lineal feet of river bank. This final remedy will cost approximately $1.05 billion and take about 13 years to complete.

EPA received input from over 5,300 commenters between June 9 and September 6, 2016 on the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. We thank everyone who submitted comments. All comments that were submitted to EPA are available in the Administrative Record (see Site Documents and Data page). Our responses to comments are included in the Responsiveness Summary in Part 3 of the ROD.

The Record of Decision and related documents are listed below:

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Early Action Cleanup Areas are locations where EPA has started working to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. Early action cleanup areas are parts of a Superfund site that may become a threat to people or the environment before the long-term cleanup is completed. Within the Site, there are several early action areas, listed below. Note: Additional documents associated with these early action areas are available upon request.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Early Action Areas:  Progress on early action areas is ongoing. Early action cleanup areas are parts of a Superfund Site that may become a threat to people or the environment before the long-term cleanup is completed. Read the latest updates and information on early action areas at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.

Final Portland Harbor Baseline Sampling Plan (December 2017):  EPA has reached an agreement with a group of responsible parties to conduct site-wide pre-remedial and baseline sampling. Please see the 'Background' section of this website for more information.

Final Record of Decision for Portland Harbor Issued (January 2017): EPA issued the Record of Decision (ROD) that selects the remedy for cleanup at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in January 2017. We selected Alternative F Modified as the final remedy.

Alternative F Modified is designed to reduce risks to human health and the environment to acceptable levels and actively remediate (using dredging, capping, enhanced natural recovery, and monitored natural recovery) 394 acres of contaminated sediments and 23,305 lineal feet of river bank. This final remedy will cost approximately $1.05 billion and take about 13 years to complete.

The EPA received input from over 5,300 commenters between June 9 and September 6, 2016 (90 days) on the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. We thank everyone who submitted comments. All comments that were submitted to EPA are available in the Administrative Record (please see the ‘Site Reports and Documents’ box to the right). Our responses to comments are included in the Responsiveness Summary in Part 3 of the ROD.

The Record of Decision and related documents are listed below:

EPA hosted community information sessions in Portland on March 7-9, and a webinar on March 14, to present the details of the final remedy.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Portland Harbor Superfund Site Data Portal

This interim website provides public access to view and download analytical data and reports associated with environmental studies for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. All data sets and reports available in this portal have been approved by EPA to use in designing future cleanup actions. When available, reports associated with data collection and analysis may also be viewed and downloaded for each study. More data will be added as it becomes available. EPA is also exploring better ways to manage and display data for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.

Exit Portland Harbor Superfund Site Data Portal

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Emergency Response and Removal

Early-action cleanup areas have addressed immediate threats to human health and the environment at six areas of the site. EPA completed early actions at the Gasco-NW Natural/Siltronic and Terminal 4 areas in 2005 and 2009, respectively. Cleanups within the Portland Harbor site, Triangle Park and U.S. Moorings early-action areas have been completed and are being monitored. Additional early actions are ongoing or near completion. They include Arkema, a former pesticide manufacturing facility on the southwest bank of the Willamette River, and River Mile 11E located between the Fremont and Broadway Bridges on the east side of the Willamette River.

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Enforcement Information

EPA has identified at over 150 Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, including businesses and local, state and federal government agencies.

EPA - PRP Coordination Meeting:  On December 4, 2018, EPA met with Potentially Responsible Parties to discuss next steps on the Portland Harbor cleanup. EPA provided this presentation and reviewed these frequently asked questions for remedial design with PRPs during this meeting.

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