CAG Board Members
Michael Pouncil, Chair
This meeting has been recorded and took place virtually and on location at the Green Anchors Industrial Park office.
Sarah Taylor: Land Acknowledgement (summary): The Portland Metro area rests on traditional Native sites. We thank the original caretakers of this land, acknowledge the systemic racism involved in the cleanup of the Willamette River. Tribes will heal only when we understand the harms done and we promise to continue to learn and to honor, respect and take care of this watershed, all that it offers to all living beings.
Tonight we presented a discussion about a large 58-acre brownfield parcel in North Portland named McCormick & Baxter (MacBax) Superfund Site. MacBax is a former creosote wood treating facility located on the east bank of the Willamette River, EPA and DEQ signed the 5 year review in September of 2021, EPA link is found here and for DEQ link here, look for photos in the DEQ link too.
Over many decades North and Northeast Portlanders have been seeking access to the Willamette River and more open space. After the remedy was instituted at McCormick and Baxter and millions of public dollars have been spent into this once highly contaminated site, many community meetings provided input for future use of the MacBax. Out of these meetings it became clear is that N/NE Portlanders wanted the area to be a park, or open space for public use. Instead, it has been fenced off for many years, and the site has set unused out of public use year after year after year; why was this happening? …how has this happened?
Currently, Portland Botanical Gardens (PBG) wishes to secure the McCormick & Baxter site on the Willamette River as their location. PBG is seeking public engagement and support from the community for the MacBax site to be preserved for green space and public access along the waterfront. A link to PBG previous prevention can be found here.
Laura Knudsen, EPA
McCormick & Baxter Superfund Site Re-development
Alyssa Bonini, Triangle Associates
Anne Christopher, EPA, Project Manager McCormack & Baxter
There are 3 operable units at the site: Upland Soil Cap, Sediment Cap, Groundwater Remedy.
EPA does not own superfund site properties or control the specific reuse, but there are significant cleanup and community benefits for getting sites into good stewardship and beneficial use.
Reuse must be compatible with the remedies.
Reuse may be possible at any stage of cleanup in coordination with EPA. Reuse support & planning may be possible throughout the cleanup process to inform options and next steps.
Roles in Redevelopment:
- Current Property Owner – decides who to sell, or donate the property to. Must be clear to buyer about the issues on the site.
- Local Government – reviews development plans for approval. May request community input on decisions. Can potentially acquire for public use.
- Community – participates in EPA reuse planning efforts. Provides input to local government o dev planning/permit decisions. Potentially meets with developers who seek project support.
- State – responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance at fund lead sites in the post-construction stage. DEQ has a lien on the property for costs it spent on the site.
EPA ensures sites are and remain protective. Provides info about the site’s status/restrictions, site responsibility, reuse compatibility with cleanup, liability protections, lien status and reuse tools.
Kat West, Senior Associate at Skeo Solutions (Contractor to EPA), National Redevelopment Expert
- McCormick & Baxter is still owned by M&B company,
- 2001 M&B Reuse Assessment done by the city of Portland, paid for by EPA, recommendation that the City conduct an FS re acquiring the property.
- EPA provides the same information to any prospective purchaser – including site restrictions responsibilities & potential cost recovery.
Superfund federal liability protection options:
- Statutory defenses: Bonafide Prospective Purchaser, may allow for cost recovery, no public involvement.
- Federal Prospective Purchaser Agreements: will allow for cost recovery, public comment period.
Lorenzo Danielson, DEQ
Objective is to negotiate liability protection in exchange for substantial public benefit.
Prospective purchaser is not currently liable.
Projects with PPA applications:
- Purchase & Sale Agreement
- Prospective purchase agreement & scope of work
- DEQ lien
- Liability Release, Certification of completion.
Sarah Miller, DEQ Project Manager for the M&B Site
DEQ – Long term O&M – critical that purchaser understands the issues and is committed to the site.
- Lien – filed by DEQ in 2011.
- Public Engagement – purchaser agreement will require a robust community engagement process.
- Terms List – a broad list of actions DEQ will be looking for relevant to the purchaser.
Potential terms of DEQ prospective purchaser agreement at M&B:
- Redevelopment: Consistent with City of Portland zoning requirements, shall not negatively impact the remedy, changes to original remedy design shall maintain functionality, prepare for DEQ approval (site development plans monitoring and maintenance plan, contaminated media management plan), record on property title – easement and equitable servitude.
Potential terms of DEQ prospective purchaser agreement at M&B:
- Maintenance and community engagement
- Monitor and maintain the soil operable unit remedy and riparian area
- Develop and maintain Willamette River Greenway Trail
- Develop and implement and state community engagement plan
- Financial assurance
- Cooperate with dept of state lands in resolution of formerly submerged lands.
- Reimburse DEQ for past remedial action costs according to the terms of the lien, not to exceed fair market value of property.
- Provide DEQ property access and onsite equipment storage space for remedy maintenance.
- DEQ shall grant release from state liability and contribution protection including natural resource damages.
Q: What redevelopment has been done since the original cleanup?
A: There hasn’t been any structural remedies since 2005. Some maintenance, but not any specific actions toward redevelopment. Re-use might be a better term. Habitat was put in along the shoreline – a riparian buffer has been established and must be maintained by any purchaser.
Q: Is the Arsonist still in control of the property? The guy who started the fire still has his name on the property. Why does he own the property? The present value of the property is over $100,000,000.
A: That is how the law works. EPA can hold the company liable, to clean it up or to get costs paid for, The M&B company went bankrupt, is now a shell company. EPA has lien authorities, the equity in the property will go to EPA and DEQ to reimburse for cleanup costs, not the property owners.
Q: Why would someone pick a PPA over a BPP, or vice versa?
A: Depends. A matter of specific site risk management strategy. Most sophisticated developers are interested in a PPA, it’s a contractual agreement – at the discretion of EPA, usually means significant site benefits.
Q: Are they allowed to donate the property? If they donate to a non-profit, can that waive the DEQ and EPA reimbursements?
A: Yes, they can donate. Whether the liens can be waived would require discussion between the agencies. If public use is greatly supported, optimistic.
Q: What are legal parameters around the public comment period that are enforceable?
A: 30-day public comment period, EPA evaluates the comments. EPA doesn’t control local land use but can assess if use is reasonable.
Q: Difference between public benefit and direct benefit?
A: Two evaluation steps for EPA – threshold evaluation: is there enough public benefit to make it worth it? And US DOJ has to sign off on this – the new owner needs to take on the cleanup work or provide cost recovery.
The City Comprehensive Plan was a good place for the discussion of the use of this site.
Priority has to be on public benefit.
Portland Botanical Garden
Sean Hogan: Co-Founder, President. Sean served as the Director of Collections at the Hoyt Arboretum and a Horticulturist at the University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden strengthening existing collections, designing new collections, and drawing larger audiences to the gardens.
There is so much history in this site, needs a little love. Might be the most disinvested site in Portland.
- The physical aspect of the site. Bring this back to as close to a natural state as possible
- Public open space, access to the water by the neighborhood. Quality upgrade to the greenway
- Cultural – we want people to see this as a warm inviting place
- Homework, make sure that we are clear with goals and what will happen on the site. Reaching out to the community for what they want.
- Portland doesn’t have an ed program for botany. We have partners around the world who are willing to work with us. K-12 program in horticulture.
- Within the garden and in the downtown business district.
Q: How do you define, “highest and best use” Sean?
A: We have a limited property in a city without a lot of available property. This is an opportunity to create many services for people, a lot of layers. We are the only major city without a botanical garden. The site has local access, open space, not an industrial project, a non-profit.
Q: Thought about access from the river for recreational use? How will you approach and inform the Native community?
A: Wouldn’t limit access from the river. Would welcome that. Everything we plant will have data. The edges would be plants taken from the site. Like madrone and oak.
Q: Have the garden folks considered the opposition that already exists, including the tribal level, how are you processing that. The Yakima Nation has concerns. Plants coming in from around the world, when it’s been challenging to re-introduce native vegetation and habitat.
A: We haven’t received any official letter of non-support from ah elder. We want feedback.
There couldn’t be a better steward with the ability to reestablish the native plants in that site. If there are non-native plants, they will be self-contained and not invasive.
Q: Responses are not related to cultural aspects in the design in your video – not much discussion about cultural influence in the design.
A: 20% of the garden would be from around the world, that mirror our own climate. Example: Japanese and Chinese gardens. Native and exotic at the same time.
Q: I appreciate your enthusiasm. My concern, there isn’t really a there-there right now, no design plans. More viable groups are coming forward. Are you really ready to go? Do you have your financing? Looked into technical issues? Or are you holding the site hostage so no one else can come forward.
A: No, we’re not holding it hostage. There is a there-there. We are fundraising.
Q: Who has the option for what happens on this site?
A: That’s in EPA and DEQ’s laps.
EPA – we don’t negotiate purchaser agreements. That’s private between seller and new entity. Once an agreement is signed, that’s when public involvement process can start. Unless the site owner wants to disclose that information, we’re not in a position to share that information.
The best solution is to ask the owner if they’re willing to disclose.
So the best stewards are representatives of a non-profit that has only been a 501c3 for barely a year are the best stewards for this site?? That doesn’t make much sense.
I think in Davis’ email, he referred to the Burke Museum as a responsible development with native plantings. Would encourage looking at that.
From Univ of Portland Neighborhood Assn: looking forward to hearing about access. Would like to talk with you more.
The Botanical Garden does not want to own the property. They don’t want to risk it. They have said that many times.
Upcoming Events and News on the River
· Rumble on the River # 5 Video- CEI Energy Hub & Zenith Energy. Presented at the 41st Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene
Additional Food For Thought (Resources)
The Thread That Ties The Recent Chemical Spills Together
This industry blog post from Veolia: “Energy Transition Deep Dive: Top 6 Challenges Renewable Diesel Producers Face”. March 15, 2022. [Note: Veolia has been criticized for practices in Flint and Pittsburgh.]
*** *** *** ***
*Save the Date!* Portland Harbor Virtual Casual Community Coffee Chat with EPA (Friday, April 28 from 12-1pm Pacific)
Community members are invited to join this informal discussion with EPA Remedial Project Managers Hunter Young and Eva DeMaria! Learn about what Hunter & Eva do on the Portland Harbor Superfund Site Cleanup and become better acquainted with everyone!
· When: Friday, April 28 from 12-1pm (Pacific)
· How to I Join the April 28 Virtual Community Coffee Chat? Please contact Laura Knudsen via e-mail (email@example.com) or phone/text (206-643-4299) for the remote meeting information.
The Voices of the Lower Willamette exhibit is currently at the Lloyd center. Despite floods and broken water pipes, the exhibit survived and is now at its new location at Lloyd Center in the former Ann Taylor Loft location. This is on the second-floor south-west of the ice-skating rink. The exhibit looks wonderful there and many people are stopping to learn about the area. We are able to host educational experiences in the store, which is a great opportunity. You can visit the exhibit while supporting Lloyd Center’s many small businesses. It’s a great place to walk on rainy days! Open: the hours of the Lloyd Center Mall. The exhibit is on the main floor of Lloyd Center Mall across from the “closed” Made In Oregon store and Its inside the “former” Anne Taylor’s Loft store.
Sarah Taylor (503) 805-4680 or
Jan Zuckerman (503) 481-7033 for more information
Rumble on the River Community Forum 4
Click this link for the Rumble on the River #4 What’s Up With Zenith Energy & the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub in Portland Harbor. We had a great turn out there the Rumble, please share and join the next Rumble that will be announce in this announcement in the near future.
Coffee Chat with Laura Knudson
Portland Harbor Virtual Casual Community Coffee Chat with EPA (Friday, April 28 from 12-1pm Pacific)
or phone/text (206-643-4299)
DEQ Rulemaking – Fuel Tank Seismic Stability –
Fourth Advisory Committee Meeting to be held April 21, 2023
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is in the process of creating rules to implement the fuel tanks seismic stability requirements enacted in Senate Bill 1567. The bill requires operators of large capacity fuel handling facilities to assess their facility’s ability to withstand a magnitude 9 Cascadia earthquake event and propose mitigation to minimize risk.
DEQ has appointed an advisory committee for this rulemaking. The fourth committee meeting will take place: Friday, April 21, 2023, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT
Register via Zoom
EPA Events & News
EPA considers current and future land use during the cleanup decision process to preserve options for anticipated land use. EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Program (SRP) is providing planning assistance to gather initial information about future use goals for a portion of the Portland Harbor Superfund Site between Willamette Cove and Cathedral Park.
On April 26, 2023 the PHCAG will have and additional meeting this month with Skeo (https://www.skeo.com/) who is assisting EPA with this information gathering.
This meeting will be an introduction to Skeo and how they will plan to gather information from the city, property owners, and key community partners in the area. They will be look into better understanding a range of future use goals and considerations.
The outcome of the document will summarize information gathered and the preliminary future goals, land use context, local initiatives, key stakeholder interests, reuse considerations and any recommendations for additional SRP reuse support.”
We will be sending out another announcement for this meeting a week before April 26, 2023.
Our discussion will be with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality about their roles in supporting the reuse efforts at the McCormick & Baxter Superfund Site. Presenters will include:We will also hear from Portland Botanical Gardens and their ideas for this particular location. The presenter will be:
Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Time: Start at 6:30 pm Pacific
Zoom Time: Start at 6:30 pm Pacific
Location: 8940 N. Bradford St. Portland, Oregon 97203 (https://goo.gl/maps/tB7tzPscUuS7wRQA7).
*Please note that parking is limited at this location. If you decide to drive, consider parking near the Cathedral Park boat ramp instead and look for signs.
Weblink: Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86023146208
Meeting ID: 860 2314 6208
One tap mobile +12532158782,,86023146208#
Dial by your location- +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
EPA’s Regional PFAS Listening Sessions – More Information Coming Soon!
To help inform EPA’s ongoing work under the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA plans to facilitate a series of virtual community engagement sessions in 2023 for each of EPA’s 10 Regions. EPA also plans to hold a session specifically designed to hear from our Tribal partners. These engagement sessions will provide opportunities for communities to share feedback directly with EPA Regional and PFAS Council leaders to inform the implementation of the actions described in the Roadmap.
- How to Sign Up for EPA’s virtual PFAS sessions: As EPA works to identify specific dates and times for each session, please check the ‘Engagement’ section of EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap website for the most up-to-date information. Additional details about these sessions will be coming soon
Contact: Michael Pouncil at 503.705.7224, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our mailing address is:
Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
8316 N. Lombard St., PMB #344
Portland, OR 97203
Notes taken by Jane Terzis