Joint fund with U.S. EPA endorsement will jump-start Portland Harbor cleanup efforts
SALEM — The State of Oregon and the City of Portland have proposed a new partnership for a safer, cleaner Willamette River, ushering in the next phase of the Portland Harbor cleanup work. This phase includes finalization of cleanup designs, which serve as blueprints and workplans for site cleanup.
In December, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the entire Portland Harbor Superfund site must meet certain milestones toward cleanup design by the end of 2019. The State and City have proposed a unique approach that efficiently leverages public investment to encourage private parties to jump-start design work.
Under this proposal, the City and State will each contribute up to $12 million to a trust, for a total of up to $24 million, that will provide $80,000 per acre as their contribution to the design work. EPA will credit the State and City against their respective responsibilities for each dollar spent from the trust. The per-acre funds are accessible to parties who sign agreements with EPA to generate cleanup designs by the end of the year, and those parties remain responsible for all costs above and beyond the $80,000 per acre.
By pooling and capping public resources, the State and City funds will be spent on actual cleanup design work as opposed to administrative costs associated with negotiating and participating at multiple locations, improving efficiency and effectiveness of public dollars. This is a creative and unique approach among Superfund sites and represents a significant step forward toward the cleanup of the harbor.
“Our waters and our lands are some of our most precious resources, and this project will help ensure that they will be enjoyed by generations to come,” said Governor Kate Brown. “It’s a great example of how working together brings forward cost-effective solutions.”
“We are proud to partner with the State of Oregon on this exciting approach,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler, “and we appreciate EPA’s willingness to think outside the box with us. We look forward to continued progress toward a healthy, working river.”
This proposal goes to the City Council on May 15, 2019. More information about the Portland Harbor Superfund can be found on the EPA website.