UPDATE – May 22, 2019
Today, City Council unanimously approved the partnership with the State and EPA. It's an important milestone in the cleanup of a 10-mile stretch of the Portland Harbor.
The partnership establishes a trust fund that will enable the City to meet its fiscal obligations for the design phase in a thoughtful, responsible way – while increasing legal certainty. It's also intended to encourage other parties to come to the table, but will not subsidize private parties or absolve them of their liability.
May 10, 2019
Today, the State of Oregon and City of Portland announced a new, unique partnership that will help move the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup forward.
In December, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the entire Portland Harbor Superfund site needed to meet significant milestones toward the next phase of the cleanup by the end of 2019. This phase, called Remedial Design, is when scientists and engineers design the technical elements and work plans for the cleanup.
In response to EPA, the State and City proposed an innovative approach that efficiently leverages public investment to encourage private parties to begin design work. EPA has signaled their support of the concept.
Under the proposal, the State and City will form a trust, administered by EPA, which will provide funds to private parties who sign agreements with EPA to generate cleanup plans. EPA will credit the State and City for their cleanup responsibilities for each dollar spent from the Trust.
The State and City will each contribute up to $12 million to the trust, for a total of up to $24 million. Private parties who agree to the terms set by the EPA, State, and City will receive $80,000 per acre to help fund design work. The private parties remain responsible for all costs above and beyond $80,000 per acre.
By pooling and capping public resources, the public trust funds will be spent on actual cleanup design work as opposed to administrative costs associated with negotiating with other parties at multiple locations, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public dollars.
This is a creative approach among Superfund sites, and represents a major step forward toward a clean, safe Willamette River.