Take Action: Clean Up the Willamette River Superfund Site

It’s our turn to demand a river that is clean and healthy for people and wildlife.

On June 8, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft cleanup Plan for the Willamette River Superfund Site. The public will have 90 days (from June 8 to September 6) to submit comments on this plan. It is critical that thousands of members of the public weigh in. Under tremendous pressure from industrial polluters, the EPA is proposing to leave more than 85 percent of the site contaminated, leaving our communities, our environment and our wildlife at risk for generations to come.

Osprey, photo by Jim Cruce

The Superfund designation is reserved for the most contaminated and complex sites in the country. The Willamette River Superfund Site covers more than 2,000 acres, stretching 10 miles from the Broadway Bridge nearly to the Columbia River. It is contaminated with more than 100 toxic substances including PCBs, DDT, PAHs, lead, arsenic and heavy metals. More than 140 businesses and other entities are responsible for the pollution and should be held accountable. The pollution harms wildlife, our environment, our communities and our economy. The river is so contaminated that the Oregon Health Authority says that it is unsafe for a healthy adult to eat more than 8 oz of resident fish per month (a piece about the size of a deck of cards), and no amount of fish is safe for pregnant or nursing women. The contaminants harm local wildlife such as bald eagles, osprey, otter and fish by causing direct mortality, and reproductive and developmental problems. Learn more about the Superfund Site here. And see our letter asking for an extension for the comment period here.

Under pressure from polluters like ExxonMobil, Northwest Natural and the Port of Portland, the EPA has produced a plan that puts corporate profits ahead of public health and the environment.

Right now, we have a once in a lifetime chance to clean up the Willamette. Write to the EPA today and demand a cleanup plan that will give us something our community has never known: a clean and healthy river.

Take Action

Please submit comments to the EPA let them know that you want OUR RIVER made safe for people and for wildlife and you want polluters to be held accountable.

Key Points to Make

  1. EPA should select Alternative G with additional dredging in areas of high human use, areas of high ecological value, and areas where there is high risk of re-contamination of the river.
  2. EPA should set much clearer timelines and metrics for success including setting an explicit date by which Portland Harbor specific fish consumption advisories will be lifted.
  3. EPA should select an alternative that allows all members of our community to eat fish safely from our river, including woman of childbearing age and children.
  4. EPA’s cleanup plan should include the heavily contaminated uplands as well as the heavily contaminated river.
  5. EPA should do a much better job of addressing environmental justice issues, including reviewing and correcting significant deficiencies in its public engagement strategies for future phases of the Superfund process and delineating strategies for ensuring the jobs, economic benefits and other benefits associated with the Superfund process to the local community and particularly to underserved communities that have been impacted by contamination in Portland Harbor.
  6. EPA should eliminate the confined disposal facility which would create a permanent toxic waste dump in our river.

How to Submit Your Comments

You can submit your comments directly to the US EPA, Region 10 office:

  • Fill out this comment form
  • Traditional mail: Attn: Harbor Comments, U.S. EPA, 805 SW Broadway St., Suite 500, Portland, OR 97205

Please send in your comments to the EPA today! It is time to take back our river!