EPA,NW Natural and Siltronic agree to Portland Harbor work

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Head Start on Engineering Work Will Help Speed Gasco and Siltronic Site Cleanup
EPA, NW Natural and Siltronic Ink an Agreement for Portland Harbor Work

Contact:                Sean Sheldrake 206-553-1220
                        Dan Phalen (phalen.dan@epa.gov) at 206-553-8578

(Portland, OR – September 10, 2009) Work to evaluate contaminated sediments at the former Gasco and Siltronic sites on Portland Harbor will move ahead faster, thanks to a legal agreement between NW Natural, Siltronic and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Today’s agreement, which outlines site specific engineering and design needed for cleaning up contaminated Willamette River sediment, will allow work to proceed quickly once the Record of Decision for the entire Portland Harbor Superfund site is issued.

Sediments along the riverbank and river bottom next to Gasco and Siltronic are contaminated with hazardous substances, such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, tar, benzene and trichloroethylene, that pose a risk to people and wildlife. “Getting a plan on the shelf for this site is important to the overall Portland Harbor cleanup because it will help minimize recontamination of downstream areas,” emphasizes EPA Project Manager Sean Sheldrake.
A noteworthy part of the agreement is the commitment to make sure that the cleanup will  incorporate the use of alternative fuels and emission controls, when possible, to reduce environmental impacts. "NW Natural and Siltronic are doing the right thing for the community by agreeing to take this early action," said Sheldrake.

In the next 30 days, NW Natural and Siltronic will develop a work plan containing details for completing an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for the project.   As part of the EE/CA, site specific information will be gathered to supplement the remedial investigation for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. Public comments will be invited on the draft EE/CA.

This project will build on NW Natural’s 2005 GASCO tar removal by continuing cleanup at this contaminated area of the Willamette River.  The 2005 tar removal project was the very first successful Early Action in the Portland Harbor Superfund site.  



You can view the text of the agreement, called an Administrative Order on Consent on the EPA website at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/ph/gasco-siltronic

"successful" might be an overstatement

We need to keep in mind the failures that occured in the 2005 Early Action and ensure that those do not happen again.  It was successful in the sense that a large amount of contaminant was removed, and the remaining material was covered over so that it does not continue to dissolve into the river water, but the cleanup had a number of failures that resulted in more material being dispersed into the water, spreading contaminant down river and infuring aquatic life in that area.
It will be important to address the shortcomigs of the previous cleanup when the next stage is planned.

Jim Robison, Chair
Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group