Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a type of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (cPAH) that comes from coal, oil and gas and it is one of many toxins found in our river. Based on recent studies, the EPA has lowered the threat risk associated with BaP and is no longer requiring polluters to remove BaP from the river as outlined in the Cleanup Plan adopted in 2017.
After more than 16 years of public process, the EPA is proposing to leave 17-acres of river sediment that are highly contaminated with PAHs in place at NW Natural’s GasCo Site and the Port of Portland’s Terminal 4. The Port and NW Natural have been two of the most aggressive advocates for a weaker cleanup plan and these proposed changes will save them a combined $35 million in cleanup costs.
The EPA is wrong to weaken the cleanup plan at the behest of two influential polluters. Leaving these contaminants in the river means that people and wildlife will continue to be exposed to them for an indefinite period of time. It is time for the EPA and polluters to move forward with the plan that was adopted in 2017, not work behind the scenes to weaken the cleanup. This is all the more important because EPA recently announced the implementation of the cleanup plan has fallen far behind schedule.