Toxic Heavy Metals Make Their Way Into Willamette River

OPB | July 19, 2012 7:15 p.m. | Updated: July 23, 2012 4:53 a.m. | Portland

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An environmental watchdog group has warned Vigor Industrial that it will sue if the Portland shipyard doesn’t curb its stormwater discharges of zinc and copper.

Mark Riskedahl directs the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.

“The toxic heavy metals that are coming off the site in substantial quantities are really bad news for the Willamette River and Portland Harbor,” said Riskedahl.

Vigor’s vice president, Alan Sprott, says the company is working with state officials to change its operation.

“We’re into the seven figures on dealing with stormwater runoff and then have plans to put into place infrastructure to deal with stormwater and essentially eliminate all stormwater runoff from our site,” said Vigor.

Sprott says heavy metals come from the products used to coat ships.

He says the company may be able to channel its stormwater into basins where soil will absorb the metals. Then the soil can be excavated and sent to a landfill.


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