What's Already Happened?
EPA and Oregon DEQ began studying the site as a potential Superfund site in 1997. The Portland Harbor was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) because of its highly hazardous condition in 2000 and officially became a Superfund site (see the CERCLA Process page for an explanation). To read EPA's narrative on the listing, click here. It provides a brief background on the history of the river's uses as well as how the contamination was first discovered.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named more than 80 companies as Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). The list continues to grow as EPA learns more information from its information gathering authority under CERCLA. The full list of PRPs, can be found on our List of Potential Polluters page.
The Lower Willamette Group (LWG) is an organization composed of 14 PRPs (including the Port of Portland, and the City of Portland), who are committed to paying for their share of the cleanup. The ten original members of the LWG are paying for the pre-cleanup study of the harbor pursuant to an Adminstrative Order on Consent with EPA (10/23/2001); they have already spent millions of dollars analyzing the complicated situation of what's in the harbor, and how to best get the Portland Harbor clean again. At the same time, the City of Portland, and especially the DEQ are working on upstream sources of contamination, so that the river won't become contaminated by hazardous substances again.
Since 2001, LWG has studied the river to determine contaminant levels and their effects on humans and the environment over the past ten years. Versions have had to be revised over the years to accomodate EPA regulations and requirements as well as new information discovered during the investigative process. This process is known as the Remedial Investigation (RI). The RI is comprised primarily of a Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) and a Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA). LWG submitted its final version of the HHRA in May and the final BERA is due in July, foreshadowing the release of the final RI in August.
To see what's happening next, click here.