Portland Superfund cleanup to exceed $1B

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to cleanup lower Willamette River could cost up to $1.4 billion.

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The details are still being finalized, but officials for EPA Region 10, which covers the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to Alaska, have mapped out a timeline for seven years of active construction in and along the Willamette from the southern end of Sauvie Island to just past the Fremont Bridge.

Despite the eye-popping price tag, the EPA has decided to largely let Mother Nature do the work. In fact, in a plan the EPA published on its website, 86 percent of the contamination would be allowed to undergo natural recovery. That relies on the river bringing clean sediment to sites to dislodge the PCBs, pesticides, heavy metals and other potentially hazardous pollutants that have settled into the sediment in the banks and bottom of the river, and letting the water’s flow carry them away.

(READ MORE: Portland Business Journal)