PORTLAND HARBOR COMMUNITY ADVISORY GROUP MEETING February 12, 2020
Michael Pouncil, CAG Chair
Hunter Young, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 – Oregon Operations office
James Holm, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Doug Larson, CAG Board Member
Sarah Greenfield, DEQ Water Quality
- Superfund site – comment period March 2 – April 30 on Willamette Cove. Will revisit this at next month’s meeting. Anyone interested can give Michael written comments at that meeting, also video, audio, paper, email – a variety of ways to comment.
- Another comment period concerning the Source Control Outfalls for the City of Pdx.. March 1, comment period will be open 30 days.
- Met with Port of Pdx, Metro, remediators concerning W Cove. Port will conduct a bench test on remediation. Will start soon, results in about 3 months.
- Working on info management plan with Port of Pdx on all things Willamette River Superfund. What do people want to see in a database? How to create a library on the harbor superfund site? More info available in March.
Video on Dredging
Environmental dredging: removing sediment to manage toxic compounds. Put scooped sediment into a disposal area or on a barge. Environmentally sensitive technology is encouraged. Currently talking to a company that uses precision dredging but this isn’t written into the specs. There are standards for best management practices. DEQ does the 401 Permit (water quality). It’s not the most precise technology but there is good tracking on the part of the operators. Is dredging timed for seasonal waterflow and hot spots? Yes. Willamette is tidally influenced and this is factored in. Hydraulic, Diver-Assisted, Clamshell dredges.
Advantages and Limitations:
Dredging permanently removes contamination at a moderate cost. However, sediment is re-suspended during the process. Might still need a cap if they can’t dredge deep enough. Can be harmful to river life. Disposal costs after dredging can be very expensive.
There is contamination/turbidity monitoring during the dredging process. EPA conducts some oversight during operations. Somewhere between 10%-100% oversight. If turbidity numbers exceed safe numbers the operation is shut down until they can reduce the turbidity.
Most popular methods are excavator and clamshell.
- Maintenance Dredging
Has been going on for a long time, long before Superfund. Maintains the depth of the river where ships come through. EPA has mapped the river. Once Superfund was identified EPA started working with Pdx Harbor to ensure that they’re sampling for contaminants and disposing of them correctly, complying with Clean Water Act & Superfund Program.
- Navigation Channel Dredging
Army Corps. 42’deep. In late 90’s the Corps stopped maintenance dredging in the federal navigation channel. Have lost about 14’ of depth in 30 years. Private businesses need to do their own dredging from time to time and are required to permit through the same channels.
- Pdx Harbor Superfund Cleanup Site Dredging
About 3 million cubic yards of material will be removed. Only about 15% of that volume is considered hazardous waste. That’s the expensive part to dispose. They’ll look for ways to reduce the volume, like de-watering. The big body of tar: they’re hoping to remove it in a contained way – the most complicated site on the river.
Caleb Schaeffer has been hired to replace Shaun Sheldrake. A section chief in the region 9 office, oversees superfund sites. Will be in place soon, will be based fulltime in Portland.
Jan Zuckerman has reached out to Michael about Zenith Five. Do not want to see the river at risk of an accident. Zenith will be going to trial Feb 24. People are encouraged to send their support.
Notes taken at the meeting by Jane Terzis