WHAT’S THE DEAL: A 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River north of the Broadway Bridge is so contaminated by toxic waste that the EPA designated it as a Superfund site in 2000, supposedly making it a high priority for cleanup. Supposedly. In reality, even after 18 years of project planning, environmental review, and legal wrangling, there’s still no clear timeline for work to begin. But local activists are trying to change that.
HOW WE GOT HERE: When established in 1980, the Superfund program was funded by a tax on the country’s biggest polluters. That tax raised billions of dollars to help pay for cleanup efforts across the U.S., but it expired in the 1990s, and Congress failed to renew it.
Since then, Congress has funded the Superfund program through year-to-year appropriations, and that budget has dropped nearly 50 percent. As a result, many clean-up efforts have been dragging on for decades as the EPA tries (often unsuccessfully) to get the companies and agencies that contributed to the pollution to pay for the cleanup.
WHAT’S NEXT AT PORTLAND HARBOR? It depends who you ask. The ever-cynical WW reporter Nigel Jaquiss recently described the Portland Harbor Superfund project as a “tiresome fiction” and accused law firms and consultants of “running out the clock.”
That’s a pretty bleak diagnosis, but it’s not stopping local activists from doing all they can to push the project forward. The Portland Harbor Community Coalition (PHCC) is one of the main advocacy groups working on this issue, and they’re asking Portlanders to pile on public pressure to make sure the full cleanup plan — which was finally settled on in 2017 — is carried out.
HOW TO SPEAK UP: The EPA recently announced a proposal to scale back its cleanup plan at Portland Harbor, so PHCC is encouraging people to bombard the EPA with emails opposing the reduced cleanup and insisting on faster progress. The deadline for that feedback is Dec. 21.
QUOTABLE: “About 100 years ago, this river was pristine. So this pollution is not just a fact of life. It’s a direct result of industrial negligence.” —Donovan Smith
Special thanks to Donovan Smith and Cassie Cohen from Portland Harbor Community Coalition for catching us up on this issue. 🙏
The final installment. The Oregonian published a gripping series this week about a string of connected murders and assaults along Highway 20 in rural Oregon, and Part 5 dropped today. If you’re into true crime, you’ll want to bookmark the whole thing for a weekend #longread. (OregonLive)
Pedal it forward. Looking for an easy way to give back this holiday season? Biketown’s “Pay It Forward” program lets users donate surplus account credits to their cash-strapped neighbors. More than 400 Biketown members are low-income riders who qualify for reduced rates — and they’re among the most active users. (BikePortland)
Look out below. Officials have blamed a broken carabiner for causing a metal panel to dislodge from the Portland aerial tram earlier this week. The panel ended up striking a 21-year-old woman who was walking below; luckily, she was not seriously injured. PBOT and OHSU have hired an independent engineer to review the incident. (Willamette Week)
Quite an upgrade. An infamous Northeast Portland strip club will soon be demolished and converted into 140 units of affordable housing operated by Hacienda Community Development Corp. Sugar Shack shut it doors in 2014 when its owner was arrested — and later convicted — for running a massive prostitution ring. So, yeah, good riddance. (OregonLive)
Winner winner chicken dinner. With only a few weeks left in 2018, it’s officially “Best of” season on the internet. Here in Portland, Eater has bestowed top foodie honors upon Canard, Bark City BBQ and Palomar, among other standout debuts in the food and drink world. (Eater)
🎄Tomorrow: Celebrate the season (and local music) at Portland Radio Project’s holiday concert (Downtown)
🍔 Get paid to taste burgers (NW | Pearl)
🎁 Take your kid to meet a black Santa (NE | Woodlawn)
🎮 Play the new “Smash” Nintendo game (Downtown)
🎨 Take a (art) walk (Multiple locations) 🆕
🍺 Drink beer and shop for records – through Sunday (N | St. Johns)
🍸 Join in an ugly sweater crawl (Downtown)
🎙️ Hear a Simpsons podcast (NE | Mississippi)
😄 Play in a giant blanket fort (NE | Lloyd)
😋 Vote for your favorite eggnog (SE | Richmond)
💃 Meet other Potterheads at a Yule Ball (SW | Goose Hollow)
🎄 Shop for holiday crafts (SE | Reed)
🎶 Go to a Tuba Christmas Concert (Downtown)
⚽ Cheer on the Timbers at a watch party (SE | Hawthorne) 🆕
🍻 Find a new favorite lager – through Sunday (N | St. Johns)
😋 Get a taste of Oregon (NE | Albina)
👋 Meet the Grinch (NW | Bethany)
🕎 Celebrate Hanukkah with ZooLights (SW | Washington Park)
😍 Meet Rojo the Llama at a bar (NW | Pearl)
🎙️ Hear live storytelling by The Moth (Downtown)
💪 Take a swing at the Sugar Shack (NE | Cully) 🆕
🙏 Pay tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin (NW | Pearl) 🆕
🎨 Learn to paint the White Stag sign (SW | Vermont Hills) 🆕
Go Timbers. Rose City ‘Til We Die. 🙌
We’ll see you Monday.