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Sunday, May 28, 2023
May 28, 2023

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EPA secures Oregon Superfund cleanup agreements

Agency: Agreements cover more than half of Portland Superfund area


PORTLAND — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced eight new agreements with parties responsible for cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site on the Willamette River.

The agency said it has now signed cleanup agreements covering more than half of the Superfund site area, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Tuesday. Under the EPA’s cleanup plan, much of the Superfund site will be allowed to recover naturally over time without any active cleanup work.

The agency is now negotiating with individual parties that are responsible for the pollution under a $1 billion plan. The site that runs from downtown Portland north to the Columbia Slough is highly contaminated from more than 100 years of industrial use.

The agency is still negotiating with other parties that have yet to sign agreements. Federal regulators could issue enforcement orders to require cleanup action.

The EPA already had agreements with the Port of Portland, the city of Portland and NW Natural.

The agency is still negotiating with parties responsible for large portions of the Superfund site on the east side of the river near the University of Portland, the Overlook and St. Johns neighborhoods and along the northern portion of the Port of Portland.

EPA officials said they could not disclose which parties have yet to sign agreements because negotiations are ongoing. For areas where “good faith negotiations” are not underway, they said, the agency plans to issue enforcement orders to require those parties to develop remedial design plans for the areas they are responsible for cleaning up.

The companies that have signed agreements include NW Natural, Arkema Inc., Bayer Crop Science Inc., General Electric Company, Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminals LLC, McCall Oil and Chemical Corporation, Phillips 66 Company, Shell Oil Company, Atlantic Richfield Company, BP Products North America Inc., Brix Maritime Co., Exxon Mobil Corporation, Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminals LLC, Union Pacific Railroad Company and FMC Corporation, PacifiCorp, Cargill, Inc., CBS Corporation and DIL Trust, Glacier Northwest, Inc.

The EPA credited the city of Portland and the state of Oregon for contributing $12 million apiece to a fund that offered to help parties pay for their cleanup plans. The fund was created last year to spur cleanup action, offering $80,000 per acre to parties that signed agreements with the EPA. In exchange, the city and state get credit toward their Superfund cleanup costs. So far, $11.2 million has been claimed from the fund, according to the city.

Caleb Shaffer, who leads the Portland Harbor Superfund Site cleanup team for EPA, said the companies that have come forward voluntarily to sign agreements are helping to make the river a healthier place.

“This cleanup is really going to reduce the health risks to people and wildlife,” he said. “The parties that stepped up really showed their commitment. … They serve as a good example of what we can accomplish when we all move toward a common goal.”