State, city object to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency draft agreement with only some polluters

TRAVIS WILLIAMS/WILLAMETTE RIVERKEEPERS - A cove along the Willamette river, in the Portland Harbor Superfund site.The Trump administration has a new plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site that Oregon officials say could reverse progress toward cleaning up toxic pollution in the Willamette River.

Oregon environmental regulators and officials with the city of Portland have sent letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing their concerns about a draft agreement between the EPA and some of the companies responsible for cleaning up the site.

The agreement would require redoing complicated environmental studies and investigations, they say, which would delay a process that has already taken more than 16 years.

Furthermore, they say the EPA left key state and tribal leaders out of the negotiations and may have violated previous agreements.

Just before President Donald Trump took office this year, the EPA released a plan calling for a $1 billion cleanup involving dredging and covering contaminated soil along a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River known as the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released a statement Monday morning calling the new agreement "a significant setback" to those cleanup plans that could have impacts on Oregon's economy and the long-term health of the environment.

"We must move forward with the cleanup of the Portland Harbor, but the federal administration's latest direction to the EPA undermines the progress we've made," she said. "I urge the EPA to honor its commitment to work collaboratively and transparently with the state, city, and all responsible parties that have long worked toward a thorough and cost-effective clean up of the Portland Harbor."

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