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On March 17, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added Bradford Island to the National Priorities List, making it a Superfund site. The listing comes after DEQ, Washington Department of Ecology and the Yakama Nation wrote joint messages in 2019 and 2021 to the EPA seeking to have the site placed on the National Priorities List.
DEQ, Yakama Nation, Washington Department of Ecology, and others have been working for years with the Corps to clean up the site, but adequate progress has not been made in a timely manner. Listing Bradford Island as an EPA Superfund site will help provide consistent federal funding and other requirements that are expected to re-energize cleanup of the site.
Bradford Island lies within the Bonneville Dam complex, near Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. DEQ has been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate and oversee cleanup of various contamination sources on the island.
From 1942 until 1982, the Army Corps of Engineers used the east end of the island as a landfill and dumped electrical components and other debris in the river near the northeast corner of the island. Some of this equipment contained polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, which are highly toxic, do not break down readily and can accumulate in the bodies of resident fish. Of particular note, PCBs in smallmouth bass were found at concentrations as high as 183,000 parts per billion. A safe level for human consumption of fish is less than 1 part per billion.
Both Oregon Health Authority and the Washington State Department of Health have “Do Not Eat" fish consumption advisories in effect for resident fish in the area. OHA added a fish advisory for sturgeon in March 2022 as well.
Other known contaminants includes polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in the upland and in the sediment, which are from oil and gasoline, and metals contamination in the upland.
Lauren Wirtis, 503-568-3295
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