Willamette Superfund cleanup could put $2B up for grabs

Willamette Riverkeeper's Travis Williams, says the cleanup effort will be spread among a wide variety of businesses.

Willamette Riverkeeper's Travis Williams, says the cleanup effort will be spread among a wide variety of businesses.

When the federal government and Willamette riverfront businesses finally get around to cleaning the Portland Harbor Superfund site, the project will take hundreds of millions, if not close to $2 billion, to execute.

Exactly which companies will get the contracts that will add up to that total remains very much up in the air.

The top candidates for the primary jobs are dredging companies, as the option remains in play while the Environmental Protection Agency decides how the Superfund cleanup will occur. Locally, such outfits include Hickey Marine Enterprises of Vancouver, Lakeside Reclamation of Aloha, North American Digester Cleaning Services of Portland, Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co. of Portland and Underwater Earth Movers Inc. of Vancouver.

But the economic impact from the project figures to spread throughout the Portland area:

• Attorneys could collect as much as 31 percent of any cleanup funds, according to a 2011 estimate.

• Once cleanup occurs, construction companies could find work assembling new facilities for businesses that, thanks to the cleaner water, either expand existing operations or even relocate to Portland.

• Shipping and logistics companies could help transport contaminated waste away from the Willamette.

“There’s a lot of work here, and there are a lot of different companies that provide these types of services,” said Travis Williams, executive director of the Willamette Riverkeeper, the nonprofit that works to protect and restore the river. “It’s everybody from the barge services, which move folks around, to marine-related services. It’s everybody from diving to dredging. There’ll be multiple bidders on this project.”

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