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Portland Harbor Superfund Remediation (RM9W)


The Portland Harbor Superfund Site (Site) encompasses a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The Site is divided into multiple project areas, with multiple Remedial Designs and future cleanups.  Foth is designing a cleanup remedy for the River Mile 9 West (RM9W) portion of the Site that was previously occupied by our client along the shoreline. The RM9W Project Area consists of approximately 47 acres of in-water area and five acres of adjacent riverbanks. The cost of the potential environmental cleanup work at the RM9W Project Area may be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and Foth’s goal is to minimize project costs while at the same time yield an effective cleanup.


We serve as the Superfund Supervising Contractor and Engineer of Record for our client to provide technical expertise, lead and coordinate the remedial investigation and design, serve as the technical representative in negotiations and meetings with EPA and other stakeholders, and ensure quality management systems are in place and implemented. An important step in developing the cleanup remedy is to design and implement a Pre-Design Investigation (PDI). Foth conducted an extensive multimedia PDI in 2020 and is currently planning a Supplementary PDI. The 2020 PDI included collection and analyses of sediment, soil, surface water, and stormwater for the contaminants of concern at the RM9W Project Area that include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, furans, and various pesticides. While the 2020 PDI provided critical data to advance the Remedial Design (RD) and prepare the Basis of Design Report (BODR), additional data gaps have been identified that need to be filled prior to further advancement of the design. These PDIs are a significant project investment and with these data available for the design, the scope and extent of the cleanup (remedial action) will be more precise, leading to a cost-efficient approach.

Foth has a multi-disciplinary team of experts supporting this project to:

  • Prepare and implement multi-media Pre-Design Investigation (PDI).
  • Prepare a PDI Data Evaluation Report that includes advanced 3-Dimensional modeling of the contaminated sediment extent.
  • Prepare a Sufficiency Assessment Report (SAR) that evaluates contaminant loading from potential uncontrolled sources to the project area.
  • Identify upland and upriver sources of recontamination that need to be further assessed and controlled prior to remedy construction in the river and communicate those findings to EPA.
  • Develop a BODR that identifies a preferred remediation action approach.
  • Prepare 30%, 60%, 95%, and Final Design Reports detailing the remedial action.

The RD effort is anticipated to continue through 2027, followed by the Remedial Action (RA), which will require multiple work seasons over several years to accomplish. Foth leads presentations and communication related to the project with all stakeholders, including the regulatory agencies and shoreline property owners. Our team is also helping our client identify and pursue cost recovery with other PRPs that have contributed to contamination at the RM9W Project Area.


An important aspect of developing an effective and cost-efficient cleanup at contaminated sediment sites is to think with “the end in mind”. Obtaining critical data and information in the pre-design phase of these multi-year projects helps to ensure that the RD and subsequent RA can occur in a cost-efficient manner. Foth keeps “the end in mind” at every stage in the process — expertise developed by decades of experience working in waterways and at contaminated sites.

This Site is vital to residents of Portland, to the City’s tourism industry, and is an important natural and cultural resource for several tribes. We are proud of the fact that, through our in-depth knowledge of the sediment remediation process and this Site, we are helping to ensure it will be enjoyed by future generations.

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