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Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 2066, Willamette Cove

This report shows data entered as of December 2, 2023 at 1:37:35 PM

This report contains site details, organized into the following sections: 1) Site Photos (appears only if the site has photos); 2) General Site Information; 3) Site Characteristics; 4) Substance Contamination Information; 5) Investigative, Remedial and Administrative Actions; and 6) Site Environmental Controls (i.e., institutional or engineering controls; appears only if DEQ has applied one or more such controls to the site).  A key to certain acronyms and terms used in the report appears at the bottom of the page.

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Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 2066, Willamette Cove

Site Photos
Click to View Photo Picture Date Caption Size
View Photo 01/01/1920 Historical Photo 103 Kb
View Photo 01/01/1930 Willamette Cove - Past 216 Kb
View Photo 01/01/2010 2010 Photo 234 Kb
View Photo 01/01/2019 Recent Photo 257 Kb
View Photo 01/01/2019 Recent Photo 191 Kb
View Photo 01/01/2020 Willamette Cove - Present 356 Kb

General Site Information

Site ID: 2066 Site Name: Willamette Cove CERCLIS No:
Address: Foot of N Edgewater St. Portland 97203
  County: Multnomah Region: Northwest
Other location information:
Investigation Status: Listed on CRL or Inventory
Brownfield Site: No NPL Site: No Orphan Site: No Study Area: No
Property: Twnshp/Range/Sect: 1N , 1W , 12 Tax Lots: 100
  Latitude: 45.581 deg. Longitude: -122.7441 deg.  Site Size: 27 acres
Other Site Names:
  Portland Harbor Sediment Study
  Inner Cove East Parcel
  Trust for Public Land
  Port of Portland Drydocks
  Portland Development Commission (PDC)
  Grayco Resources

Site Characteristics

General Site Description:
Site History:
Contamination Information: This site was used as a lumber mill, plywood mill, barrel manufacturing, and a shipbuilding/repair and drydock facility until the 1960s. These past uses have resulted in significant soil contamination in the upland and riverbank portions of the property, and Willamette River sediment adjacent to the site.

Site-related contamimants include metals (mercury, lead, etc.), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and chlorinated dibenzo-dioxins and -furans (dioxins). Contaminants are sufficiently elevated to pose a risk to both human health and the environment.

Contaminants from the adjacent McCormick & Baxter Superfund site (ECSI #74) have migrated in sediment and groundwater into the southeastern portion of the Willamette Cove site. A portion of the Willamette Cove shoreline and lagoon contain a protective cap to prevent the continued release of M&B contaminants into the Willamette River.

At low river stages in 2010 and 2011, a petroleum sheen was observed emanating into the river from beach sand in the inner cove (East Parcel).

In October 2010, trenches excavated to the water table beneath the east parcel beach exposed oily sand containing PCB Aroclor 1254 at a concentration of 207,000 ppb. Surface sand samples from the same beach did not contain elevated PCB concentrations.
Manner and Time of Release: The specific manner and time of releases are not known, although on-site industrial activities between the early 1900s and the 1960s are believed to be the likely sources of hazardous substances in upland soil. Waterfront activities at the former cooperage may have contributed to the petroleum and PCB contamination found at the Willamette Cove inner beach and contribute to the petroleum sheen on river water.

Contaminated sediment and groundwater from McCormick & Baxter (ECSI #74) have impacted the southeastern portion of Willamette Cove adjacent to the railroad bridge and abutment.
Hazardous Substances/Waste Types: Upland and riverbank soil: heavy metals (including lead and mercury), dioxins/furans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and petroleum hydrocarbons including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Groundwater: metals and petroleum products and constituents (PAHs).

Willamette River sediment: dioxins/furans, PCBs, metals, tributyl tins, and petroleum hydrocarbons and constituents.

Pathways: Pathways of greatest concern for Willamette Cove are:

1) skin contact or swallowing of contaminated sediment or soil by aquatic organisms, birds, and mammals found in this stretch of the river.
2) consumption of resident fish and crayfish caught by fishermen.
3) ingestion of and skin contact with sediments and surface water during recreational use of beaches.
4) Human and ecological risk due to handling contaminated site soils.
(These use pattern may change as METRO intends to preserve the site as undeveloped greenspace)
Environmental/Health Threats:
Status of Investigative or Remedial Action: See DISP (Disposals) section above for removal actions performed at the Wilamette Cove site.

The Record of Decision (DEQ, 1996) for McCormick & Baxter (M&B) addresses contaminated sediments and groundwater that have migrated from the M&B site. The M&B sediment cap remedial action extends into Willamette Cove to contain contamination originating from M&B.

(GMW 7/30/97) Further evaluation of PAHs, PCP, metals, and tributyltin in near-shore sediment is needed, since contaminated sediments are the most significant environmental concern at the site. In addition, since METRO has designated this property as undeveloped public greenspace, direct contact with contaminated soils (and sediment) could occur. Further site actions should therefore include better characterization of metals in shallow soils where previous data suggests there are hot spots. Finally, the source and extent of petroleum and TCE in groundwater at the site should be investigated. Further state action is a medium priority.

(4/21/00 RGS/VCP) A Voluntary Agreement and Scope of Work for Remedial Investigation and Source Control Measures was sent to Metro in December 1999. The Port of Portland and Metro are currently negotiating an Interagency Agreement for the RI. DEQ expects to sign an agreement with the Port/Metro in October 2000.

(4/2/01 RGS/VCP) The Port and Metro submitted the RI workplan in February 2001. The RI is scheduled to begin in April 2001.

(11/21/01 RGS/VCP) The Phase I RI was performed in April and May 2001. Results of the Phase I investigation and a proposal for the Phase II RI were submitted to DEQ on September 30, 2001. DEQ review comments were submitted to the Port and Metro in November 2001.

(12/23/02 RGS/VCP) The Phase II RI was conducted January - June 2002.

(12/6/05 RGS/VCP) The RI report was submitted in March 2003. RI data gaps are currently being addressed and the Risk Assessment initiated. The McCormick & Baxter cap was constructed in a portion of Willamette Cove in the summer of 2004. During this construction, a petroleum product seep was observed and removed from the upland portion of the site (down to the Mean Low Water Line); the in-water extent is unknown.

2006 Baseline Risk Assessment identified upland areas with unacceptable risk to ecological and human receptors. These risk findings prompted 2008 upland soil removal.

2006 - 2010
Considerable site work was performed during this interval and can be summarized as:
-Upland soil remediaton.
-Performance of tasks required to complete Source Control Evaluation.
-Additional effort placed on erodable soils evaluation and groundwater to surface water pathway to evaluate possible upland sources to in-river Area of Potential Concern and Cove PCB Hotspot.
-Additional drilling and soil sampling along service road to dry docks.
-Land use planning
-Public outreach

2016. A large upland removal action was completed in 2015/2016 under DEQ. The removal action addressed the most highly-contaminated soil in the site upland, and included a large area of highly-concentrated dioxins in the Central Parcel portion of the site. Metals hot spots were also addressed.
Data Sources: Key project documents include:
1)Level II Environmental Site Assessment, St. Johns Riverfront Property, Portland, Oregon, Sweet-Edwards/EMCON 3/15/89
2)Supplemental Environmental Site Assessment, St. Johns Riverfront Property, Portland, Oregon, EMCON 1/9/96
3) Data Summary/Site History Report, Hart Crowser, 11/8/00
4)RI Work Plan, Hart Crowser, 2/26/01
5)Phase I Progress Report, Hart Crowser, 9/27/01
6) Remedial Investigation (Hart Crowser; 3/11/03)
7) RI Addendum: Supplemental Preliminary Assessment of the Willamette Cove Upland Facility (Port of Portland; 9/19/2003)
8) Removal Action Activities October 28, 2004 (Ash Creek Asso. 3/8/05)
9) GW Monitoring Report Dec 05 (BBL, Ash Creek, New Fields) 4/21/06
10) Riverbank Soil Sampling Report (BBL/Ash Creek Asso) (5/5/06)
11) Baseline Risk Assessment (Ash Creek, New Fields) 9/2007
12) Removal Action Report (Ash Creek, New Fields) 12/2008
13) Characterization of Surface Sediment (Ash Creek, New Fields) 3/2010
14) Source Control Sampling Workplan (Ash Creek Asso) 3/31/2010
15) Draft Feasibility Study, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex, February 12, 2014.
16) Revised Feasibility Study, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex, October 2014.
17) Removal Action Engineering Design Report, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex, October 21, 2014.
18) Proposed Vertical Soil Characterization, Willamette Cove Upland Facilility. Apex, January 21, 2015.
19) Revised Removal Action Engineering Design Report, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex; February 27, 2015.
20) Removal Action Drawings and Specifications, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex; February 2, 2015. Revised copy dated March 2015 subsequently presented to DEQ.
21) Response to DEQ/EPA Comments, Removal Design, Willamette Cove Upland Facility. Apex, February 27, 2015.
22) Vertical Soil Characterization Results. Apex; April 7, 2015.
23) Final Upland Removal Design Report (May 2015) and Contractor Specifications (March 2015).
24) Upland Removal Report; Apex 2016
25) Amended Groundwater Monitoring Plan. Apex; November 7, 2016.
26) Response to DEQ Comments, June 2016 Groundwater Data Report. Apex; November 3, 2016.
27) Combined Feasibility Study and Source Control Evaluation. Apex; September 2017.
28) Revised Feasibility Study and Source Control Evaluation. Apex; March 7, 2019.
29) DEQ comments on Revised FS/SCE, including appended comments from EPA and Tribes. May 21, 2019.

Substance Contamination Information

Substance Media Contaminated Concentration Level Date Recorded
ARSENIC Groundwater 25 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
ARSENIC Groundwater <2 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
ARSENIC Soil 12 ppm 10/20/1995
CADMIUM Groundwater 50 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
CADMIUM Groundwater <5 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
CADMIUM Soil 4 ppm (composite) 10/20/1995
CHROMIUM Groundwater 1,800 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
CHROMIUM Groundwater <5 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
CHROMIUM Sediment 33 ppm 10/20/1995
COPPER Groundwater 3,000 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
COPPER Groundwater <10 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
COPPER Sediment 84 ppm 10/20/1995
COPPER Soil 246 ppm (composite) 10/20/1995
DIOXIN AND DIOXIN-LIKE COMPOUNDS Soil 2,3,4,7,8-PeCDF 16,000 ng/kg 10/1/2010 2:48:15 PM
LEAD Groundwater 410 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
LEAD Groundwater 8 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
LEAD Sediment 53 ppm 10/20/1995
LEAD Soil 2,870 ppm 10/20/1995
LEAD Soil 13,400 ppm (beach sand) 3/1/2008 3:01:18 PM
MERCURY Groundwater 2.2 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
MERCURY Groundwater 0.2 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
MERCURY Sediment 0.56 ppm (composite) 10/20/1995
MERCURY Soil 9.2 ppm (composite) 10/20/1995
MERCURY Soil 65 ppm (beach sand) 3/1/2008 3:03:11 PM
NICKEL Groundwater 2,100 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
NICKEL Groundwater 11 ppb (dissolved) 12/8/1988
NICKEL Sediment 23 ppm 10/20/1995
OIL OR FUEL RELATED COMPOUNDS Groundwater 297 ppm 10/20/1995
OIL OR FUEL RELATED COMPOUNDS Soil 680 ppm 12/8/1988
OIL OR FUEL RELATED COMPOUNDS Soil 49,400 ppm (beach sand) 9/27/2010 2:56:46 PM
PCBs Groundwater 2.5 ppb 12/8/1988
PCBs Soil 207,000 ppb, Aroclor 1254 (beach sand) 9/27/2010
POLYAROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAH) Soil 11,200 ppb Benzo(a)pyrene 10/4/2010 3:06:51 PM
TETRACHLOROETHYLENE Groundwater 1 ppb 10/20/1995
TRIBUTYLTIN Sediment 360 ppb 10/20/1995
TRICHLOROETHYLENE Groundwater 25 ppb 10/20/1995
ZINC Groundwater 7,100 ppb (total) 12/8/1988
ZINC Groundwater 75 ppb (dissolved) 10/20/1995
ZINC Sediment 178 ppm 10/20/1995
ZINC Soil 865 ppm (composite) 10/20/1995

Investigative, Remedial and Administrative Actions

Action Start Date Compl. Date Resp. Staff Lead Pgm
RECORD OF DECISION  (Primary Action) 03/01/2021   Erin McDonnell VCP
View Full Report Showing Action History

Site Environmental Controls

Control Description Begin Date End Date Last Reviewed By Last Review Date
Health Advisory 11/01/1998   Ken Thiessen 08/01/2012
  Comments: "No Trespassing" signage installed at site ca. 1998. "No Fishing" advisory signs and additnial "No Trespassing" signs installed 2011. "Area Closed", "No Trespassing" and "Health Advisory" signs installed 2012.

Key to Certain Acronyms and Terms in this Report:

You may be able to obtain more information about this site by contacting Erin McDonnell at the Northwest regional office or via email at If this does not work, you may contact Ximena Cruz Cuevas (503) 229-6811, or via email at or contact the Northwest regional office.