Agency's official Record of Decision is released, requiring cleanup that will take 13 years, cost more than $1 billion

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The EPA announced a final cleanup plan for a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River known as the Portland Harbor Superfund site on Friday. It will cost more than $1 billion and 13 years to complete.Responding to overwhelming public sentiment from Portland residents, the EPA on Friday afternoon released a final cleanup order for the Portland Harbor Superfund site that is significantly more aggressive than the draft plan it proposed in June.

EPA's formal "Record of Decision" charts a 13-year cleanup plan costing more than $1 billion that would remove the most hazardous pollutants from a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River from the Steel Bridge north to Sauvie Island.

"It is a more protective remedy" than the draft plan, said Dennis McLerran, regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle. "We're very excited that this is the right remedy."

"It looks to me like the EPA responded to the public comment that overwhelmingly called for a stronger, more robust plan," said Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeeper. "While this is not ultimately the level of dredging we asked for, this plan is something we can work with and will do a lot for reducing the risk from toxic pollutants in the Willamette." 

While the final numbers are subject to change based on new studies and changing river conditions, EPA proposes to dredge about 250 acres of contaminated sediment from the river bottom, said Cami Grandinetti, EPA program manager. That would require the removal of about 3 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated by industrial chemicals dumped into the river over the past century, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, dioxins, furans, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

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