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Early Clean-up Agreement Reached for Portland Harbor

Release Date: 10/6/2003
Contact Information: Sean Sheldrake
(206) 553-1220

October 6, 2003

At Port’s initiative, clean-up at Terminal 4 could be done by 2007

The Northwest office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Port of Portland have formalized an agreement for the Port to conduct extensive assessment and cleanup of decades of contamination at Terminal 4 in Portland Harbor. These early cleanup actions, which the Port volunteered to undertake, will be the first cleanup work done since the EPA placed Portland Harbor on its National Priorities (or “Superfund”) List in 2000.

“This is an exceptional – and much appreciated – effort by the Port to kick-off the work in the harbor,” said EPA Regional Administrator John Iani. “After all, it’s not often that a responsible party steps forward and volunteers to do an unspecified amount of work before the extent of its responsibility is known.

“We hope and assume that the Port’s willingness to step forward serves as an example for other parties. This can only mean good things for the environment in and around Portland Harbor.”

Attorneys for the EPA and the Port of Portland sealed the voluntary effort in what they describe as a “friendly” order (copy available upon request). This Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) commits the Port to thoroughly study the extent of contamination in the sediments at T4 and to begin cleanup by 2007. Contaminants of concern at T4 are believed to be petroleum products, metals, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

“The Port of Portland has an obligation to the environment and to this community to do our part to clean up the Willamette in the most efficient and responsible manner possible,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director, Port of Portland. “This is a common-sense approach for us to take responsibility for past actions, and furthermore it is consistent with our policy of proactive environmental management.”

A century of industrial practices contaminated Willamette River sediment with hazardous substances, such as heavy metals ( mercury, lead, etc) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxin/furans and pesticides.

The EPA is the lead agency for cleaning up contaminated sediments and DEQ serves as lead agency for cleaning up sites on land along the river. The EPA and DEQ are working in cooperation with state and federal agencies and tribes to ensure a cleanup that meets the needs of everyone.

A group of potentially responsible parties, known as the Lower Willamette Group (LWG), have entered into an agreement with the EPA to conduct the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study, a task required by Superfund law. The Port of Portland is a member of the LWG.

Contact: EPA/Sean Sheldrake

EPA/Bill Dunbar

Port/Elisa Dozono