State regulators and other parties say the EPA and the industrial companies have backed off their initial “baseline study” proposal that many feared would lessen cleanup requirements for the polluted river. However, state and local officials, Northwest tribes and environmentalists remain wary that the four polluters could tilt the study to reduce their cleanup obligations.
The EPA has refused to disclose the four companies that would fund and manage the baseline study, called the Pre-RD Group. But the Portland Tribune has learned that the group includes Arkema, which once manufactured DDT on the river. Other members being cited by local observers, though still unconfirmed, include Evraz, a Russian-owned steel company; the Marine Group, which may be more than one entity; and Exxon-Mobil. PGE was reportedly part of the group earlier, but spokesman Steve Corson said in an email that the Portland electric utility is not “one of the parties currently working with EPA.”
Kevin Parrett, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s point person for the Superfund cleanup, said state regulators are relieved that many of their objections to the initial baseline study plan were addressed.
“It got off to a bad start,” but “I’m feeling good,” Parrett said. “We got most of what we asked for.”
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