The EPA announced Friday that the Portland Harbor Superfund Site is one of 21 sites it plans to target across the country. In a statement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says he’s asking Superfund Task Force staff to immediately develop plans for cleanup at the sites, though environmentalists say they want more information about what the cleanup process will look like.
“It would be a good thing to get this cleanup moving as quickly as possible and bring this harbor back to health,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director with the Audubon Society of Portland. “But that cannot mean cutting corners and letting polluters off the hook and lowering the cleanup standard.”
While Pruitt called toxic land cleanup important, environmentalists like Sallinger say recent trends at the EPA under the Trump Administration signal otherwise.
In October, the administration unveiled a plan that Oregon officials said would reverse progress toward cleaning up toxic pollution in the Willamette River. Critics also argued that the plan was reached without input from key stakeholders, including key state and tribal leaders.
“What’s at stake here is whether people continue to be exposed to these toxic contaminants or whether we really do a sufficient job at cleaning it up,” Sallinger said.