Portland City Council voted to create a community outreach program to improve communications about the health and safety hazards associated with eating fish from the Portland Harbor Superfund area.
The vote came just one day after the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement finalizing the next big step in Superfund cleanup.
Councilors voted to establish an intergovernmental agreement between the city, Oregon Department of State Lands, Port of Portland and Multnomah County. It gives the county the ability to establish a community outreach program that will cost $345,000; Multnomah County does the work and the other three entities provide the funds.
“We are worried about people who may eat the fish they catch in the river during the Portland Harbor cleanup,” said Jae Douglas, director of environmental health services at Multnomah County, in a statement. “These funds will help us educate community members about the risks and make sure people are safe.”
Annie Von Burg with the Bureau of Environmental Services told City Council that the feedback from community members revealed public confusion over current fish advisories and the risks associated with eating fish from the Superfund site.
“We also heard that community involvement specifically to those that are most impacted needs to be increased, and that better coordination amongst the government agencies to create those clear messages and consistent messages were needed,” Von Burg said at the meeting.
Von Burg also mentioned that the city’s most vulnerable populations — including Native Americans and low-income residents — would benefit from improved fish advisories.