The Portland Harbor Superfund Site in Portland, Oregon, is the result of more than a century of industrial use along the Willamette River.
Water and sediments along Portland Harbor are contaminated with many hazardous substances, including heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), dioxin, and pesticides. These compounds have been found to be harmful to human health and the environment. Because of the contamination, some types of fish found in Portland Harbor, such as bass, carp and catfish currently pose a health risk to those who eat them.
Portland Harbor was added to EPA's National Priorities List in December 2000. The current study area extends from the Columbia Slough to the Broadway Bridge.
EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are working with potentially responsible parties to clean up contaminated sediment and control sources of additional contamination.
Current status: We're working with the Lower Willamette Group to finalize the remedial investigation and the feasibility study which evaluates cleanup alternatives for Portland Harbor. We will use the studies to develop a proposed cleanup plan which we anticipate completing in 2016. When released there will be a series of public information sessions to discuss the proposed plan and the opportunity for formal public comments. Until then, we will continue to meet with the community to provide updates, answer questions, and listen to concerns.
Ecological Risk Assessment and Human Health Risk Assessment
The Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA) was finalized December 2013. This report describes how animals, birds, fish, plants, and other creatures that live in the bottom of the river are exposed to contaminants at Portland Harbor, and estimates the amount of exposure to the contaminants. We will use the results of the ecological risk assessment, along with the feasibility study, remedial investigation, and human health risk assessment, to develop a proposed cleanup plan for Portland Harbor.
The Final Human Health Risk Assessment for Portland Harbor Superfund Site is available for review. The general conclusions from the human health risk assessment are:
- eating resident fish such as catfish, bass, and carp from Portland Harbor is a health risk especially for recreational and subsistence fishers, and infants that are breast fed by mothers who eat resident fish;
- PCBs are the primary contaminant associated with most of the risk from eating Portland Harbor fish; and
- the health risks are great enough for cleanup to be needed under the Superfund law.
"Early Action" cleanup areas
Early Action cleanup areas are parts of a Superfund site that may become a threat to people or the environment before the long-term cleanup is completed. Within the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, Triangle Park, and U.S. Moorings early action areas have completed cleanup activities and are being monitored. The remaining early action areas below have begun in water removal of contaminated sediments and collection of extensive data at known "hot spots," or areas where contamination is highly concentrated. The initial work will allow hot spots at the remaining early action sites to receive priority when sitewide cleanup begins.
- Arkema - A former pesticide manufacturing facility contaminated with high levels of DDT and other chemicals.
- Gasco-Siltronic - A former manufactured gas plant contaminated with tar deposits from past manufacturing.
- River Mile 11E - An area located between the Fremont and Broadway Bridges on the east side of the Willamette River.
- Terminal 4 - A former industrial site contaminated with pesticides, PCBs, metals, and PAHs.
- Triangle Park - A 35-acre former industrial site with soil and groundwater contamination.
- U.S. Moorings Early Action Area - A former industrial site contaminated with metals, solvents, and petroleum by-products from historical boat maintenance activities.