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Site at Bonneville Dam was used as dumping ground for toxic materials
Portland, OR—In a move that will improve water quality in the Columbia River for years to come, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is proposing to add Bradford Island to the National Priorities List, better known as Superfund.

“I’m committed to ensuring we have clean water to support a thriving economy and a healthy environment, now and for future generations,” said Governor Kate Brown. “We know these Superfund Sites can take years or decades of study before remediation occurs. The State of Oregon strongly encourages the EPA to consider early actions for areas of highest concentrations of contaminants, and then take time to determine the most appropriate cleanup options for the residual contamination.”

This marks the first such listing in Oregon in 10 years. The last site to receive a Superfund designation was North Ridge Estates in 2011. The Klamath Falls residential subdivision was found to be contaminated with asbestos. With the Bradford Island listing, Oregon will have 13 cleanup sites on the National Priorities List.

“This Superfund listing is a huge win for the people of Oregon and Washington, for fish in the Columbia, for our sovereign tribes and for the environment,” said Richard Whitman, Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Listing Bradford Island, located at the Bonneville Dam, as an EPA Superfund site will help provide consistent federal funding and other requirements that are expected to re-energize cleanup of the site. The listing comes after DEQ, Washington Ecology and the Yakama Nation wrote a joint message to the EPA seeking to have the site placed on the National Priorities List.

“We deeply appreciate the hard work and collaboration with our partners in Washington and the Yakama,” Whitman said. “We put up a united front, and it has paid off.”

DEQ has been and will continue to be a full partner in the cleanup efforts, Whitman said. The Superfund listing opens up a new public comment and involvement process to help guide future work at the site.

Background information

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 under a voluntary cleanup agreement, 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. On one or more occasions, the Corps 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 be stored and build up in the bodies of resident fish.

The agency removed PCB-containing electrical equipment from the river in 2000 and 2002. The last cleanup activity at the site was in 2007 when the Army Corps of Engineers removed PCB-contaminated sediments from the river. The most recent sampling, in 2011, of sediments, clams and smallmouth bass indicate that PCB concentrations are still too high to protect fish living nearby, and people who eat the 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 depends on the rate of fish consumption, and could be as low as a few parts per billion for recreational and tribal fishers.

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About Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing the impacts of manufactured products and cleaning up contaminated properties. DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

Contact: Harry Esteve, communications manager, 503-951-3856,

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