Oregon Public Broadcasting

Portland City Council has approved a settlement that paves the way for the clean-up of Mile 11, within the Portland Harbor Superfund site. It allots $400,000 to a remediation fund that can be tapped during the clean-up.

Rick Applegate is a consultant who served as the city's top administrator for the Harbor for ten years. He called Mile 11, between the Broadway and Fremont bridges a "very important area", home to the worst PCB contamination in the river.

The contamination lies in the river mud, but also in the water, and, at some times of the year, in fish found in that part of the river.

Amanda Troxler / OPB

Applegate commended the city for moving with EPA and landowners to investigate the contamination.

"If we had missed that opportunity -- it was controversial at the time -- we well could have had a very serious obstruction in the Superfund process. And as you know, it doesn't take much in Superfund to get things further delayed, as we've experienced over the last decade. So this is a very good day."

The agreement lays out a preliminary plan for clean-up, with the understanding that work will be performed later, after the EPA issues a decision about how the clean-up should proceed.

But Applegate urged the city not to wait, and to try to broker a clean-up for Mile 11 without delay.

Travis Williams of Willamette Riverkeeper called it a small but significant step, and thanked the EPA what he called its persistence on Mile 11.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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