Local and National Organizations Ask EPA for New Superfund Listing on Columbia River

"A delay in the cleanup of the Bradford Island site is unacceptable."


Local and National Organizations Ask EPA for New Superfund Listing on Columbia River

June 9, 2021 (Portland, OR)—In an act of solidarity with Yakama Nation, seventeen public health, environmental justice, and conservation organizations are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list Bradford Island and surrounding waters of the Columbia River on the nation’s “National Priorities List,” commonly known as the Superfund list. The organizations expressed support for repeated requests by Yakama Nation, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) to add one of the most toxic sites in the Pacific Northwest to the Superfund list. According to the letter, “Bradford Island pollution, and the [U.S. Army] Corps’ failure to promptly address the problem, is a pressing environmental justice issue that demands action.” 

“A delay in the cleanup of the Bradford Island site is unacceptable. Current site conditions pose a serious threat to human health and the environment requiring an expedited cleanup,” stated Rose Longoria, Yakama Nation Fisheries Superfund Section manager. 

For over 40 years, the U.S. government dumped toxic pollution in and along the Columbia River shores at Bradford Island, located near Bonneville Dam. The area is a historical Tribal fishing area. Today, Tribal people and diverse communities use the area for subsistence and recreational fishing despite advisories warning not to eat resident fish. In fact, resident fish caught near the island contain the highest levels of cancer-causing PCBs in the Northwest. The Oregon Health Authority and Washington Department of Health issued fish advisories warning people not to eat resident fish, such as bass and sturgeon, caught near Bradford Island.

“Families want to eat locally-caught, resident fish from the Columbia River without fear of getting sick,” stated Lauren Goldberg, legal and program director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “Cleanup is the answer, not fish advisories telling people resident fish are unsafe to eat. We’re calling on EPA and Members of Congress to champion a clean Columbia and hold the Army Corps accountable for dumping toxic pollution.”

If EPA approves a Superfund listing, the decision would proceed through a rulemaking process in 2021, which will include an opportunity for public comment, and an ultimate listing decision by EPA in 2022. 

In a letter sent to EPA earlier this year, Yakama Nation, DEQ and Ecology requested that the agency add Bradford Island and surrounding waters to the Superfund list based on years of stalled and inadequate cleanup by the Army Corps. Despite the significant contamination, under the Trump administration, the Army Corps slashed funding for Bradford Island cleanup and initiated a lawsuit against the State of Oregon. In August 2020, the Trump administration EPA failed to nominate the site for Superfund listing. 

About Bradford Island Cleanup

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.