The city has a unique role in Portland Harbor as a steward of the river and as a regulator and a potentially responsible party. The city also is aware that cleanup decisions must be cost-effective and based on sound science. They must also consider the economic importance of a working harbor while restoring one of Portland’s most valuable natural assets.
The City of Portland is a potentially responsible party. Because of the potential of the city stormwater system to carry contamination from the uplands to the river, the city may ultimately be liable for some of the cleanup and restoration of the Portland Harbor site. EPA mailed collection requests (also known as "CERCLA 104e letters) to over 280 current and former property owners, tenants, or facility operators.In that role of looking broadly at the impacts of the Superfund site on the Portland community, the city is part of the Lower Willamette Group (LWG).
The LWG is a group of private entities and the Port of Portland that stepped forward to conduct the initial phase of the Superfund work. The LWG signed an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA in September 2002 that requires the LWG to conduct and pay for a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) that will investigate the sediment contamination, determine if there are risks to humans, fish, or wildlife, and identify cleanup options. The investigation is focused on the Willamette River and uplands between river mile 2 and river mile 12. The LWG has been collecting sediment, water, and fish tissue samples since 2002. The project is nearing the end of the Remedial Investigation Feasibility Study (RI/FS) phase.
In October 2009, the LWG submitted a Draft Remedial Investigation Report to EPA. The RI characterizes site conditions, determines the nature and extent of the contamination, and assesses risk to human health and the environment. In March 2012, the LWG submitted a Draft Feasibility Study (FS) to EPA. The FS develops and evaluates alternative cleanup options and the costs of those options.
Based on the FS, EPA will write a Proposed Plan, which summarizes the cleanup alternatives from the FS and proposes a preferred course of action. EPA will collect public comments on the Proposed Plan, and then issue a Record of Decision (ROD), which is the document that describes EPA’s decision regarding how the site should be cleaned up. The ROD contains a description of site history, site characteristics, community participation, the contaminants present, and the remedy selected for cleanup.
The timing of when EPA issues a Proposed Plan and then the ROD depends on many factors, but it will likely be several years after LWG submits the Feasibility Study.
Go to the EPA website to learn more about the Superfund process.