Council approves $3.475 million more for Portland Harbor cleanup
The City Council agreed to spend up to $3.475 million more through 2024 to help meet its commitment to cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
The vote was 4-0 with Commissioner Chloe Eudaly absent. The ordinance was introduced by Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in change of the Bureau of Environmental Service, the city agency taking the lead on the project.
"This is a milestone for us," Fish said.
City officials hope the commitment, combined with previous spending already approved by the council, will satisfy the city's obligations on the project. The EPA is not expected to decide that question until the end of the year, however.
The funds in the ordinance are intended to help pay for two additional projects as part of the cleanup ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They are:
• Designing and implementing a cleanup plan with other governments for Willamette Cove on the east bank of the river in North Portland for $2.025 million dollars. The 27-acre site and 45 acres of water around it are a priority site because they pose a public health risk. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Port of Portland are also taking part in the cleaup, which is expected to cost $8.1 million total.
• Creating an Information Management Plan to collect and share information about the progress of the cleanup with partners, shareholders and the public for $1.15 million. City officials expect the EPA to designate 10 to 18 cleanup sites that will be tracked by system.
The council is also being asked to spend up to $300,000 to create a public involvement program to facilitate meaningful participation in the remedial design phase of the cleanup, specifically for those disproportionately affected by the cleanup.
The city already has the funds to pay for the new projects.
The council previously approved two other cleanup-related projects. They include spending $2.5 million on the site known as River Mile 11 and the creation of a $24 million trust fund with the State of Oregon to help other potentially responsible partners pay for remedial planning. The city's share is $12 million, and the participating partners are eligible to receive $80,000 per acre of active cleanup.
"We're hoping this creates momentum for other responsible parties to step up and do their part as well," said Annie Von Burg, the senior BES program manager for the project.
The EPA designated a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River a superfund site in 2000. The agency issued its Record of Decision requiring the Portland Harbor to be cleaned up in January 2017. In December 2018, EPA agency notified more than 150 parties who are potentially responsible for the cleanup, including the city, that they must be in good faith negotiations with it by June 30, 2019 to develop cleanup designs for areas not currently under orders, like River Mile 11.
These recent actions by EP A have officially kicked off the phase of the project commonly referred to as the Remedy Design Phase.
You can read the ordinance here.
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