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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Harbor Superfund Site

Posted: June 22, 2020

Help make Portland Harbor information accessible and protect the cleanup

The City of Portland and State of Oregon Department of State Lands are working with EPA to make Portland Harbor Superfund information easier to access.

The Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup is complex. The 10-mile stretch of the lower Willamette River is divided into multiple project areas, and there will be at least 13 separate cleanups. A combination of government agencies and businesses are currently drafting cleanup plans for most of those areas.

A centralized website where environmental data and information about cleanup activities, fish advisories, recreation restrictions, and other use restrictions will support coordination and communication among performing parties, government entities, and the public.

The City and State invite local communities, public agencies, tribal governments, and businesses to inform the development of this website through participating in audience specific workshops and online questionnaires. Read more about these opportunities.

Next Phase of the Cleanup: Remedy Design

The City’s Portland Harbor Program focused its efforts in 2019 on setting the stage for the next phase of the cleanup, remedy design. We are proud to share the City’s 2019 Portland Harbor Program milestones. We thank our public, private, and community partners for helping make 2019 such a successful year, and we look forward to more collaboration and progress in 2020.

What Happens During Remedy Design?

A lot of planning work happens during the remedy design phase. This is when engineers determine how to implement EPA’s approved cleanup plan. Critical details are nailed down to make sure the cleanup will be effective and can be completed with minimal impacts to neighbors, nearby businesses, and the environment. This step is vital to getting us to the goal of a healthy river.

Graphic of the remedy design process

This is the stage where engineers figure out how to implement EPA’s cleanup plan. Here are just a few of the ways the City worked with our partners to pave the way for this foundational step:

  • Collaborated with the State of Oregon to expedite sitewide cleanup by creating an innovative approach that resulted in nearly 20 parties committing to design more than half of the entire Superfund site.
  • Worked with River Mile 11 East Group to set the standards and design criteria to ensure the remedy will protect human health and the environment.
  • Partnered with the State of Oregon and the Port of Portland to start designing the in-water cleanup of Willamette Cove.
  • Launched our Portlander-informed Community Involvement Program.
  • Authorized $300,000 to support public involvement and community grants.
  • Worked with the State to lay foundation to increase accessibility and transparency of Portland Harbor information.

The Portland Harbor Superfund Site in Portland, Oregon is located in the lower Willamette River, just south of the Columbia Slough (river mile 1.9) and north of the Broadway Bridge (river mile 11.8). Portland Harbor has a long history of shipping, industrial, and commercial activity because of its key location on the Willamette River. This area of the river also has historical, natural and cultural resource significance.

Map of the Portland Harbor cleanup area

A joint U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) study in 1997 showed that river sediments in Portland Harbor are contaminated with DDT and other pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and petroleum. Based on this information, EPA designated Portland Harbor as a Superfund Site in December 2000.

This is an unusually complicated Superfund site, one of the most complex in the EPA Superfund program. The site:

  • Has been subject to decades of historical contamination with a variety of pollutants
  • Involves numerous potentially responsible parties
  • Has endangered species act (ESA) considerations
  • Is culturally significant to six Native American tribes.

The EPA on January 6, 2017 issued its final cleanup plan. See the City's response.

Contact Info

How to learn more about the Portland Harbor Superfund site

City of Portland's Role

How the City of Portland is involved in the Portland Harbor Superfund investigation