science environment

Oregon's Congressional Push To Get EPA To Clean Up Polluted Portland Harbor

By Cassandra Profita (OPB)
Oct. 17, 2017 12 a.m.
A partial aerial view of the cleaned up McCormick and Baxter site along the Willamette River.

A partial aerial view of the cleaned up McCormick and Baxter site along the Willamette River.

Travis Williams / Willamette Riverkeeper

Oregon’s six Democrats and its sole Republican in Congress sent a letter Monday urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with cleanup plans for the Portland Harbor polluted Superfund site.


In their letter, they reminded the agency that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested in the plans to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The 10-mile stretch of Portland's Willamette River remains highly contaminated from decades of industrial use, they wrote. And now it's time to move toward the actual cleanup.


Related: A Guide To The Portland Habor Superfund Site

The delegation called on the EPA dedicate enough funding to the Superfund program to ensure the clean-up happens as quickly as possible. And the seven federal lawmakers asked for flexibility for the dozens of parties responsible for covering the cost.

The letter underscored the extensive efforts already undertaken: The Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown dedicated $8 million this year to help jump-start the cleanup and the city of Portland is working with companies and other entities to move quickly to clean up one of the most high-priority spots in the cleanup area.

"Every year the Portland harbor goes without cleanup action, our region loses opportunities in the form of tax revenue, jobs, and property value," the lawmakers wrote. "In addition, the longer we delay cleanup, the longer the documented environmental and public health risks at this site go unaddressed."

Last week, Brown alerted the public to a secret agreement between the EPA and some of the parties responsible for the cleanup costs.

Officials have expressed concern that the agreement would delay the billion-dollar cleanup plan for Portland Harbor.