The EPA will ask more than 150 companies and other groups to foot the $746 million bill to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.
The proposed plan to remove 65 contaminants along the 10-mile stretch of Oregon’s Willamette River will take 30 years, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. The agency says the hazardous substances found at the site include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins/furans, pesticides and heavy metals, which can harm people and the environment.
The pollution at the superfund site stems from a variety of industries, including shipbuilding, wood treatment and lumber milling, storage of bulk fuels and manufactured gas production, chemical manufacturing and storage, municipal sewer overflows and industrial storm water.
Of the 150 potentially responsible parties identified by the EPA, 10 have already agreed to help with the cleanup process. The 10, which call themselves the Lower Willamette Group, include Arkema, Bayer CropScience, BNSF Railway Company, Chevron, Phillips 66, Union Pacific Railway and the city of Portland.
Lower Willamette Group spokesperson Barbara Smith told Oregon Public Broadcasting that the group is happy to see a cleanup plan for the river.
“This complex river system can be cleaned up efficiently and within a reasonable time by focusing on areas where contaminant levels present the greatest potential risk to humans, fish and wildlife,” Smith said. “Our hope is that the Proposed Plan and subsequent Record of Decision will lead to implementation of a health protective, timely, and cost-efficient cleanup of the Portland Harbor.”
The proposal starts with seven years of dredging and covering more than 200 acres of contaminated soil at the bottom of the river, storing some of the polluted sediment in a confined disposal facility to be built in the river. It would also remove soil and cap highly contaminated areas along the banks of the river.
At the end of this first seven years, the EPA says health risks from the site’s pollution will drop as much as 100 times below the current levels.
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