Bradford Island Superfund Site Update

This spring marks two years since Bradford Island and surrounding waters was listed as a Superfund site and we are still waiting for cleanup to begin.

April 15, 2024

Bradford Island Superfund Site Listing Two Year Anniversary—What’s Up with Cleanup?

Kate Murphy, Senior Community Organizer, Columbia Riverkeeper

This spring marks two years since Bradford Island and surrounding waters was listed as a Superfund site and we are still waiting for cleanup to begin. 

On a recent visit to the site, I was struck by the stark contrast between the scenic Columbia River Gorge and the Superfund Site designation. The beauty of Bradford Island and the surrounding waters of the Columbia River, the abundance of wildlife, the rich and diverse ecosystem of the area—all of this such an unlikely image of the Columbia River’s latest Superfund site. 

Army Corps Responsible for the Contamination

The wall of Bonneville Dam looming in the background, offers an explanation. Hidden beneath the lush landscape and rushing water, toxic contamination—the result of decades of pollution by the US Army Corps of Engineers beginning with the construction of Bonneville Dam— makes its way into the sediment, the groundwater, the river, and the fish and wildlife that live here. And ultimately, the people who depend on eating safe and healthy resident fish from this area are exposed to this harmful contamination. See our fish advisories in English and Spanish for more information about which fish to avoid eating. 

The listing of Bradford Island and surrounding waters as a Superfund site—largely due to the tireless work of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation—was a major win in the fight to demand cleanup at a place where resident fish have been found to have some of the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the country. 

Cleanup Agreement to be Public Soon

There is good news. The Federal Facility Agreement (FFA), which is an agreement between agencies that is needed to guide the cleanup, is finally in the process of being completed! Two years after the listing and one year after the promised deadline, it looks like the FFA will be completed, signed, and made public this spring—a big step in moving forward with the cleanup. In the meantime, we’ve been pushing hard for cleanup to move ahead and engaging Columbia river communities to become involved in the cleanup process. 

Unlike the Hanford nuclear cleanup site up the river which will  require generations to accomplish, Bradford Island is a cleanup that we can make happen in our lifetimes, maybe even before I reach retirement. With all of us working together, we can restore Bradford Island and surrounding waters to a safe place with healthy fish. 

Stay tuned!

Columbia Riverkeeper is now working to procure their independent technical advisor via a Request for Proposals. For more information about Columbia Riverkeeper’s search for a technical advisor and their overall work, please contact