People rely on clean water and toxic-free fish. That’s why Columbia Riverkeeper uses the law and grassroots organizing to advocate for cleanup at polluted sites.
People want to feed their families locally-caught fish from one of the most popular recreational fishing areas in the Mid-Columbia—but the Oregon and Washington health departments warn the fish are too toxic to eat. For over 40 years, the U.S. government dumped toxic pollution in and along the Columbia’s shorelines at Bradford Island, located near Bonneville Dam in Multnomah County. The area is a historical tribal fishing area. Fish caught near the island contain the highest levels of cancer-causing PCBs in the Northwest. Today, tribal people and diverse communities use the area for subsistence and recreational fishing despite advisories warning not to eat resident fish.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have a voluntary cleanup agreement to evaluate and cleanup various sources of contaminants on the island. Yet the Corps has not engaged in new cleanup since 2007 when the federal agency removed polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-laden sediments from the river. Subsequent reports and sampling concluded that PCB concentrations in fish remain extremely high in the area. The area is also contaminated with lead, mercury, and petroleum chemicals.
How we engage
The Corps and DEQ plan to decide on critical cleanup actions over the next two years. People that rely on clean water and locally-caught fish deserve a say. Riverkeeper pairs in-depth legal and technical research with grassroots organizing to empower people to engage in cleanup decisions. We are also working in solidarity with Yakama Nation, which fought for years for a seat at the table to make critical decisions about a cleanup that affects treaty fishing rights. The goal: final cleanup decisions that protect people’s health and local fish.
Oregon, Washington, & Yakama Nation Ask EPA for New Superfund Listing on Columbia River
Legal & Program Director Lauren Goldberg talks Bradford Island Cleanup:
Associate Attorney Simone Anter talks Bradford Island Cleanup:
Blog posts, press releases, and information:
- In Our View: Designate Bradford Island a Superfund site, The Columbian, November 10, 2019.
- Editorial Board: Add Columbia River’s polluted Bradford Island to Superfund, Seattle Times, November 6, 2019.
- Tribe, states ask feds to list Bradford Island as Superfund site, The Columbian, October 31, 2019.
- Northwest States And Tribes Call For Superfund Listing At Bradford Island, OPB, October 18, 2019.
- Oregon, Washington, & Yakama Nation Ask EPA for New Superfund Listing on Columbia River, Press Release, October 17, 2019.
- Letter to EPA from Oregon, Washington, and Yakama Nation, Letter, October 10, 2019.
- Support for Bradford Island Cleanup Area Superfund Listing, Letter, October 9, 2019.
- Interview with Rebeccah Winnier, Owner, Northwest Fish Hogs, Conoce Tu Columbia Podcast, September 2019.
- Community Forum on Languishing Bradford Island Cleanup Draws Crowd, Press Release, August 7, 2019.
- Think Out Loud: Bradford Island Cleanup, OPB, August 5, 2019.
- Yakama Nation and Columbia Riverkeeper Demand Government Cleanup at Bradford Island, Columbia Insight, June 27, 2019.
- Demand Government Cleanup at Columbia River Toxic Cleanup Site, Fact Sheet, 2019
- Fishing Near Bradford Island: A Guide to Protecting Your Health from Toxic Pollution Near Bonneville Dam, Fact Sheet, 2019
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bradford Island Cleanup Website
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Bradford Island Cleanup Website
- Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commision Report on Tribal Fish Consumption
- Oregon Health Authority Fish Advisory for Bonneville Dam
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Website on Cleanup Laws