My View: Time for Portland Harbor renaissance

Written by Dennis McLerran and Richard Whitman published in Portland Tribune 1/10/2017.

As early as 1911, the Oregon Board of Health declared that the lower Willamette River was an open sewer — where fish were unsuitable to eat. Since those days, water quality has improved tremendously as the result of substantial public and private investments — to the point where people are once again enjoying the river.

Willamette Superfund cleanup plan is finished, now it's time to get to work (Opinion)

byTravis Williams and Bob Sallinger, published on 1/8/2017

Travis Williams and Bob Sallinger

Final Cleanup Plan from EPA

From US EPA 1/6/2017:

Today we released the final cleanup plan, called the Record of Decision, for approximately 10 miles of the Lower Willamette River within the Portland Harbor Superfund Site which runs through the economic heart of Portland, Oregon.

“This is a very strong cleanup plan, thanks in large part to the quality of the public comments we received,” said Dennis McLerran, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. “Under the final plan, we’ll be removing more contaminated sediment sooner, which means risks will be lower and the river will be safer faster. Input from the public, tribes, state and local government, environmental groups and business and industry helped us hone our plan and make it more responsive to people’s concerns. We have been working very closely with Oregon DEQ on the final remedy and with state and EPA leadership. The stage is now set for cleanup work to begin in earnest.”

The Record of Decision addresses contaminated sediments through dredging, capping, enhanced natural recovery, and monitored natural recovery, including removal of over three million cubic yards of contaminated sediments. The ROD also addresses contaminated groundwater that could re-contaminate the river and river banks. About 1,774 acres of the site with lower contaminant levels are expected to recover naturally over time. Active cleanup work at the site is now expected to take as much as 13 years and cost about $1 billion.

At the request of community groups and stakeholders, the EPA plans to host community information sessions to present the details of the final remedy this March. We will post the details on our website ( as these information sessions are scheduled.

Read the Portland Harbor Superfund Site Record of Decision (PDF) (2535 pp, 43 MB)
Read the Press Release
Learn more at the EPA’s Portland Harbor Superfund site web page

Thank you.

For Press inquiries please contact Mark MacIntyre ( ) 206-553-7302
For community inquiries please contact Laura Knudsen ( ) 206-553-1838

PCB exposure and effects on human health

Attached here are two informative studies about human exposure to PCBs and the effects of this exposure on human health.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Routes of Exposure and Effects of Human Health by David O. Carpenter
Exposure to and health effects of volatile PCBs by David O. Carpenter

Proposed Plan Comments submitted to EPA

Thank you to all of the individuals and organizations who submitted comments to the EPA asking for a more aggressive cleanup of the Portland Harbor.

Attached here are some of the comments submitted to EPA:

Portland Tribune: Divvying up the Superfund cleanup

By Steve Law

“As a general concept, I don’t mind the idea of breaking it down into operable units, so that work can be done effectively in one place,” says Jim Robison, chairman of the Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group, EPA’s officially designated citizens panel. The idea of breaking the 10-mile site into smaller Superfund projects has long been discussed, Robison says.

However, he adds, “I wouldn’t want that to be an avenue for them to do less of an effective cleanup.”

Cleanup plans for Portland Harbor not good enough, Yakama Nation leaders say

Reported in The Yakima Herald-Republic by Kate Prengaman:

Additonal Report at

Yakama Nation leaders traveled to Washington D.C. this week to urge the federal Environmental Protection Agency to improve its plans for cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

Interviews - Water World on KBOO with Kristen Yount

Interview with Rose Longoria, Yakama Nation Fisheries on 02/17/16

Discussion with Peter deFur, community technical consultant and Rose Longora on 06/22/16

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