Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ Home/ Land Quality/ Environmental Cleanup/ ECSI/ Site Summary

Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 2068, Portland Harbor Superfund Site

This report shows data entered as of May 16, 2021 at 5:19:10 AM

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.

Note: DEQ may have posted online documents related to this site. If so, they would be available for viewing or downloading on ECSI Summary Page

Go to DEQ's Facility Profiler to see a site map as well is information on what other DEQ programs may be active at this site.

Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 2068, Portland Harbor Superfund Site

General Site Information

Site ID: 2068 Site Name: Portland Harbor Superfund Site CERCLIS No: SFN1002155
Address: Willamette River Miles 1.9 to 11.8 Portland 97210
  County: Multnomah Region: Northwest
Other location information: The Portland Harbor Study Area is a heavily industrialized 10-mile stretch of the Lower Willamette River extending from the Broadway Bridge to Sauvie Island (river mile 1.9-11.8).
Investigation Status: Suspect site requiring further investigation
Brownfield Site: No NPL Site: Yes Orphan Site: Yes Study Area: Yes
Property: Twnshp/Range/Sect: 1N , 1W , 12 Tax Lots:
  Latitude: 45.5819 deg. Longitude: -122.758 deg.  Site Size:
Other Site Names:
  Willamette River Sediment Investigation
  Portland Harbor

Site Characteristics

General Site Description:
Site History: DEQ has been working on a number of both upland and in-water cleanup projects within the Lower Willamette River since the mid-1980s. By 1997, it was known that industrial use of Portland Harbor had led to soil and groundwater contamination on both sides of the river. The Gould, Inc. (ECSI #49) and McCormick and Baxter (ECSI #74) industrial sites within Portland Harbor had been added to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) National Priorities List of highly contaminated sites, and DEQ was overseeing cleanups at 18 additional sites. Several of the sites were known to have released contaminants to the Willamette River, but the full extent of river sediment contamination was not known.

EPA listed Portland Harbor as a Superfund site in December 2000. In 2001, DEQ, EPA, 6 Tribal governments, and natural resource agencies entered into a Memorandum of Understanding. Per the MOU, EPA is the lead agency for investigating and developing potential cleanup options for the river and its banks. DEQ is responsible for identifying, cleaning up or controlling upland and upstream sources of contamination that could enter the Portland Harbor reach. DEQ also has a support role to EPAs in- water sediment investigation and remedy work.

Investigation and development of cleanup options for the Harbor began in 2001.

In December 2005, DEQ and EPA developed a Joint Source Control Strategy, which identifies a framework for conducting DEQ's source control work consistent with the objectives of EPAs in-water work.

In 2014, DEQ submitted a summary report to EPA and interested tribes and resource agencies on cleanup investigation and control at 170 sites surrounding Portland Harbor. The report was updated in March 2016 to support the release of EPAs Proposed Plan for Cleanup and inform public comment. DEQs report concludes that upland cleanup will be sufficient for EPAs in-water remedy to be effectively implemented without delay.

EPAs Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Harbor was released for public comment in June 2016. Many of the comments recieved suggested that the proposed remedy did not remove enough contaminated sediment and relied too heavily on monitored natural recovery.

EPA released a final cleanup plan (called a Record of Decision or ROD) in January 2017. As a result of the comments received on the proposed plan, EPA selected a more aggressive option as the final remedy. The plan reduces risks to human health and the environment through capping or dredging 394 acres of contaminated sediments and 23,305 lineal feet of river bank. The remainder of the site is expected to recovery naturally over time. EPA estimates that the cleanup will cost $1.05 billion and take 13 years to construct.

EPA has now begun working with potentially responsible parties to prioritize and initiate remedial design at individual work areas within the site and develop and implement a long-term monitoring plan for measuring progress in meeting remedial action objectives.
Contamination Information: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides, dioxin/furans, and metals are the primary contaminants of concern in the Harbor. Levels of these compounds are generally highest adjacent to on-shore sites already known to be contaminated.
Manner and Time of Release:
Hazardous Substances/Waste Types: There are 64 individual chemicals that pose a human health or ecological health risk.

The focused contaminants targetted for "active cleanup" (i.e. dredging or capping) are PAHs, PCBs, dioxin/furans, and DDx.
Pathways:
Environmental/Health Threats: Fish collected within Portland Harbor are known to be contaminated with PCBs, dioxins, chlorinated pesticides such as DDT, and mercury. The Oregon Health Authority has issued a fish advisory warning people to limit their consumption of fish caught in the Willamette River. In addition, several areas of sediment contamination that threaten fish and wildlife are known to be present within Portland Harbor.
Status of Investigative or Remedial Action: Remedial design is currently underway in 3 areas of the Harbor:
1. NW Natural's GASCO site near rivermile 6.5 west
2. RM11E Group's RM11E Project Area near rivermile 11 east
3. Port of Portland's Terminal 4 Project Area near rivermile 4.5 east

EPA continues to work with other parties to negotiate orders for remedial design and cleanup.
Data Sources:

Substance Contamination Information

Substance Media Contaminated Concentration Level Date Recorded
No information is available

Investigative, Remedial and Administrative Actions

Action Start Date Compl. Date Resp. Staff Lead Pgm
REMEDIAL DESIGN  (Primary Action) 01/07/2017   Sarah Greenfield
View Full Report Showing Action History

Key to Certain Acronyms and Terms in this Report:

You may be able to obtain more information about this site by contacting Sarah Greenfield at the Northwest regional office or via email at sarah.greenfield@deq.state.or.us. If this does not work, you may contact Ximena Cruz Cuevas (503) 229-6811, or via email at ximena.cruzcuevas@deq.state.or.us or contact the Northwest regional office.