On August 2, 2014, members of Right 2 Survive and Right 2 Dream Too took the Dirty Side of Portland Bus Tour with Groundwork and Know Your City. We traveled first to Cathedral Park where we learned about the Superfund cleanup timeline and community outreach plan. The Superfund cleanup is a federal government program that is instrumental in cleaning up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Portland was put on the national priority list in 2000 because of its toxicity from decades of industrial pollution contaminating the river with pesticides, heavy metals and PCBs. Estimated time for proposal is sometime in 2015. The results will then be released publicly. It is okay to swim or participate in recreational activities in the river, but to be sure to wash well with soap and water afterward and clean anything you use. Do not eat fish that live in the harbor; carp, catfish or bass. They contain high PCBs from feeding because of the toxic sediment.
We then traveled to Emerson Street Garden, a pilot brownfield project of Groundwork. A brownfield site is a property that may have difficulties trying to redevelop/reuse because of contaminants, hazardous substances or other pollutants. This property was once contaminated and has been transformed. It’s a place for the community to come together to share, network, to learn about the environment and gardening.
The last site we visited was a brownfield at 124th and Division, a vacant lot that has had many difficulties with redevelopment over the years. McDonald’s made an offer, but neighborhoods objected, as they didn’t want another fast-food place. David-Douglas High School students got together with Groundwork and created some renderings as suggestions for what to do with the property, including a community garden, place for local business or nonprofits. Nothing has been done with this property at this time.
Read more about this tour in this article from the Oregonian.
UPDATE on the Brownfields – August 28, 2014 – Portland Maps out 910 acres of polluted brownfields.