People rely on clean water and toxic-free fish. That’s why 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.
- Press Release: Community Forum on Languishing Bradford Island Cleanup Draws Crowd
- Fact Sheet: Demand Government Cleanup at Columbia River Toxic Cleanup Site
- Fact Sheet: Fishing Near Bradford Island: A Guide to Protecting Your Health from Toxic Pollution Near Bonneville Dam
- 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
Who is responsible for the pollution and cleanup?
Legal & Program Director Lauren Goldberg talks Bradford Island Cleanup: