The site is located on the Willamette River (at river mile 15), about one mile south of downtown Portland. It includes several islands surrounding a lagoon. Ross Island Sand and Gravel Co. mined gravel from the lagoon between 1926 and 2001. Since 1979, the company has been required to place fill (sediment, soil, concrete and other materials) at the site to reclaim upland, wetlands and in-water areas that were previously mined and return them to a more natural state. Reclamation goals were most recently established in the 2002 Reclamation Plan
. Former operations and some of the early imported fill resulted in contamination at the site that the DEQ cleanup program is managing. In 2003, DEQ established numerical screening values, measurements of contamination that are used to evaluate whether fill is suitable for placement in uplands or the lagoon. Prior to placement, all fill must be tested to confirm that is does not contain chemicals at levels that could result in harm to the humans or wildlife that use the site. DEQ's work is coordinated with several other agencies involved at Ross Island Lagoon.
What's happening now
RISG continues to place fill at Ross Island Lagoon to meet reclamation objectives. Oregon Department of State Lands, RISG, and agency partners are currently discussing an Adaptive Management Plan, which proposes some changes to the habitat locations when compared to the 2002 Reclamation Plan figures. The primary goal of the AMP is to maximize habitat benefits while reducing the volume of import fill required. Fill volumes and sources are documented in annual reports submitted to Oregon Department of State Lands.
Starting in January 2021, DEQ will begin the process of updating the chemical screening values used to evaluate what imported fill can be placed at the site (see more information in the FAQs below). The existing screening values have not been updated since 2003 and many of the values are outdated. These updates are needed so that decisions about fill placement are based on the best available science and consistent with regional dredged material evaluations for protection of human health and the environment.
Documents associated with the previous fill evaluation process are available below: