Project Updates

DEQ has closed the public period, which extended from March 2, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2020, on the proposed cleanup plan to address soil contamination on the “Upland” portion of the Willamette Cove. Thank you to the many people who provided comments and attended informational meetings about this cleanup. DEQ is currently in the process of reviewing and responding to comments. When the responses are ready, they will be posted on this webpage.

Helpful information for Willamette Cove can be found below. The full staff report is available in the Resources section.

Find additional information about the site in DEQ’s Environmental Cleanup Site Information Database on Willamette Cove page.


DEQ is working with the Port of Portland, Metro and others to clean up contamination at this property, a former industrial site in North Portland along the east bank of the Willamette River. The property comprises approximately 27 acres and approximately 3,000 feet of Willamette River shoreline. Located south of the St. Johns Bridge, adjoining or nearby neighborhoods include Cathedral Park, St. Johns, and University Park.
1920 – Dry Dock Construction – Central Parcel. Photo shows the extensive infrastructure that was created  to support the St. Johns Ship Repair Yard.

Willamette Cove was used extensively for industrial purposes from the early 1900s to 1970s, including a lumber mill, plywood mill, barrel manufacturer, and dry dock and ship repair facility. Metro purchased the property in 1996 and plans to preserve the land primarily as a natural area, while integrating a regional trail.
Industrial activities resulted in contamination including soil with dioxins/furans, metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Soil contamination at the property exceeds risk levels, including hotspots, for human health and ecology (plant and animals). Groundwater contamination is also present in the uplands and potential source control measures are under evaluation. While interim cleanup actions were performed in 2004, 2008, and 2015-2016, soil contamination remains at the property that poses a risk to people and the environment.
Recent photo shows current site conditions. Plants and animals have reemerged after industrial activities generally ceased in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Michael Pouncil.
In 2019, the Port prepared a Feasibility Study and Source Control Evaluation presenting potential cleanup options for the Upland, for which DEQ has oversight. Cleanup of contamination in the site riverbank, beach, and the adjoining Willamette River will be overseen by EPA as part of Portland Harbor Superfund Site work.
DEQ has prepared a staff report presenting a recommended cleanup plan for the Willamette Cove Upland. Following a public comment period and consideration of all comments, a cleanup plan will be selected by DEQ.
Extensive public outreach activities will be conducted prior to selection of an Upland cleanup plan. This will include public meetings with neighborhood associations and the Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group. Representatives from the Portland Harbor Community Coalition will also perform outreach to a wide range of community interests through a cooperative effort with Port of Portland, Metro, and DEQ.

Resource documents


Erin McDonnell, P.E.
Northwest Region Cleanup Program

Rebecca Wells-Albers, Outreach Coordinator, Northwest Region Cleanup Program, 503-229-5585


In-Water Work Update

As part of the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup, the Oregon Department of State Lands is accepting comment on temporary closure of Willamette Cove to conduct sediment and surface water sampling activities. Get more information here.