This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Columbia River’s newest Superfund Site: Bradford Island and surrounding waters.
One Year Since the Superfund Listing - What’s Happening?
The U.S. government—the Army Corps of Engineers—polluted the island and river. Due to years of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection finally prioritized people’s health and all life that depends on the Columbia by adding the site to the nation’s worst-of-the worst polluted sites list, the Superfund List.
This was a huge victory for people who depend on a clean Columbia River and healthy fish to eat. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Yakama Nation, and thousands of community members who continue to advocate for a swift and thorough cleanup at Bradford Island and surrounding waters. But, the critical work of cleanup remains.
For decades the Army Corps, which owns and operates Bonneville dam, dumped toxic waste on the island and in the Columbia. The result: resident fish that live year round at Bonneville dam have the highest levels of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Northwest. This has led the Oregon Health Authority and Washington Dept. of Health to issue fish advisories warning people not to eat resident fish caught near Bradford Island.
So what’s happening now?
- The EPA and Army Corps are developing a Federal Facility Agreement. The agreement is critical to start the Superfund cleanup process, and Columbia Riverkeeper is concerned the federal government will not meet its promised deadline.
- A Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) is taking shape and I am honored to be selected as a member. The RAB is a forum for exchange of information and partnership. Meetings will be open to the public.
- Columbia Riverkeeper will continue to share information on the resident fish advisory with people who fish near Bradford Island. We’re also planning another webinar this spring on environmental justice and public health. Stay tuned for more details!
A safe and healthy Columbia River is not only possible, it is critical. We are committed to holding polluters accountable and fighting for clean water and healthy fish. We hope you will join us.
Tell the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps that a timely and effective cleanup of the Bradford Island Superfund site is a top priority.