Joint fund with US EPA endorsement advances projects for safer, cleaner river
(March 9, 2020) - The City of Portland today announced the success of its 2019 joint partnership with the State of Oregon aimed at assisting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to meet its goal of accelerating the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup. To date, nearly 20 parties have signed agreements with EPA to finalize cleanup designs for 140 contaminated acres, according to the EPA. These cleanup designs serve as the blueprints for the subsequent cleanup construction.
The EPA today credited the funds made available from the City-State partnership with “bolstering EPA’s negotiation efforts.” A total of $11.2 million has been claimed from the City-State fund, resulting in 57 percent of the 10-mile Superfund site now working under legally binding agreements with EPA on remedial design, the next major phase of cleaning up the contaminated riverbed. Much of the work under these agreement kicks off this month.
Mayor Ted Wheeler applauds the progress by saying “This is a unique and bold approach by public agencies and it’s resulting in the most significant progress we have seen since the site was listed 20 years ago.”
The City-State trust was created last year after the federal agency pushed to have responsible parties move forward on remedial design agreements by the end of December 2019. In response to that challenge, the City of Portland and State of Oregon each dedicated up to $12 million to a trust that offered $80,000 per acre to parties that signed agreements with EPA to complete cleanup designs. The trust pooled public resources and capped the public’s funding for remedial design.
This innovative approach improved efficiency and effectiveness of public dollars, ensuring that funds would be used on actual cleanup design work instead of unlimited administrative costs associated with negotiating and participating at multiple locations. For each dollar spent from the trust, EPA agreed to provide the City and State with a dollar for dollar credit against their respective cleanup responsibilities. Parties that took advantage of the funding offer remain responsible for all design costs above the $80,000 per acre.
Cleanup design agreements are now in-place for the entire western side of the Superfund site, and for large areas of the eastern bank. The Superfund Site stretches over 10-miles of the Lower Willamette River, roughly from the Broadway Bridge downstream to Sauvie Island.
The City is hopeful that the momentum created with this effort will assist the remaining uncommitted areas to move forward towards a cleaner and safer river. For more information, visit epa.gov/superfund/portland-harbor.
Contact: Annie Von Burg 503-516-4970