Shutdown sets back Willamette Superfund work even further
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
Cleanup of the Willamette River's Superfund site has faced myriad delays. The federal government shutdown has resulted in even more.
Portland officials working with businesses on the Willamette Superfund site cleanup say the federal government shutdown has already had a material effect on business’ efforts.
Specifically, Dennis McLerran, the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10’s administrator, was scheduled to visit with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish and business representatives whose companies operate along the Willamette River’s north reaches, near the Superfund site. The meeting in Portland, which is part of Region 10, was set to take place Oct. 2.
The meeting, at which the sides were set to begin finalizing such matters as costs to businesses as well as clean-up strategies, was outright canceled.
Fish said the cancellation is a tangible example of what the shut-down has meant for Portland.
“These are not easy meetings to schedule,” Fish said. “We’re worried it will cause further delays in what we’re trying to do. We’d been admonished that the city needs to speak with one voice, and we’re reaching out to as many potentially responsible parties as possible, but it’s hard when you have a government shutdown. Everything gets put on ice.
“We have a sense of urgency on this. A lot of money and a lot of jobs are at stake, and as soon as we figure out the city’s cost, the sooner we can figure out how to pay for it.”
The EPA is drafting strategies to clean the Willamette River’s Superfund site. The clean-up is projected to cost as much as $2.2 billion.
The agency continues to meet with stakeholders along the river to determine culpability. It’s a complicated issue because many of the biggest polluters no longer operate businesses along the river or are even functional business entities.
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