Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site

On June 8, 2016 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) released their Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in Portland, Oregon. The Proposed Plan presents the USEPA’s preferred alternative to address contamination of sediment and shorelines in a 10 mile section of the lower Willamette River. This section of the lower Willamette River was subjected to over 100 years of waste discharge by hundreds of industries located along its riverbanks and in the greater Portland area.

The Proposed Plan, also known as Alternative I, consists of the following activities:

  • Dredging and/or capping of about 290 acres of contaminated sediments;
  • Monitored Natural Recovery of 1,876 acres of contaminated sediments; and
  • Excavation and/or capping of contaminated soils along 19,500 linear feet of riverbank.

The USEPA estimates Alternative I will cost about $746 million (+50% to -30%) and require seven years of construction in the river. This represents a significant reduction from the $2.1 billion preferred alternative in the 2015 Feasibility Study (FS). It is anticipated that this cost will be allocated amongst 150 or more responsible parties.

The release of this Proposed Plan initiates a 60-day public comment period that is currently scheduled to end on August 8, 2016. Comments may be submitted here.

Roux Associates can provide the technical expertise to assist in assessing yours or your clients’ potential exposure to the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. It is important to remember that that USEPA’s cost estimate does not include any cleanup work that may be required at on-shore or upland properties, nor does it include any potential Natural Resource Damage (NRD) claims. Furthermore, the liability allocation which is currently being undertaken by the PRPs, including the Lower Willamette Group (LWG), will have serious implications on the financial liability for affected parties.

To read the full text of the Proposed Plan, click here to download the file from the USEPA website. If you have questions regarding the Proposed Plan and would like to request technical assistance from Roux, please click below.

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Roux Divides and Conquers at Environmental Law Forum

Saturday, June 25 Some valued members of the Roux team will be speaking at the 2016 Environmental Law Forum, presented by NJSBA Environmental Law Section and NJICLE. The New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE), a division of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), is dedicated to providing the legal community with resources, including hosting live seminars, printing dozens of legal manuals, and publishing videos.

The three-day forum takes place at La Mer Beachfront Inn in Cape May. Roux’s own Adam Love and Gregory D. Martin will be presenting on Saturday at 10:10 am in a section entitled “Divide and Conquer – Using Experts to Battle the Scourge of Joint and Several Liability.”

See what else the forum has to offer here.

Roux Pulls an Overnight for AFSP

Saturday, June 4 The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts two overnight walks per year. The goal of these Out of the Darkness Walks are to raise money to research, educate, and advocate for public policy based around suicide prevention, while supporting survivors of suicide loss. Those who walk are contributing to AFSP’s goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20% by the year 2025.

Wendy Monterosso, a Senior Hydrogeologist at Roux’s New York office, is proudly participating in the New York City Out of the Darkness Walk. To donate to her cause, click here.

The New York City walk is 16-18 miles, lasts from dusk until dawn, and takes walkers through the historic sites of the city, including Greenwich Village, the Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, and many more. Click here to learn more about the walk and organization behind it.

New York City Out of the Darkness 2016

CSR Spotlight: Guatemala Mission Trip

When Roux Associates started encouraging employees to take part in charitable activities, it quickly evolved from a suggestion to a passion. Through our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program, we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of volunteer work in just a few short years. In supporting a wide range of charities, including group and individual efforts, Roux most recently supported Larry McTiernan, a Principal Hydrogeologist in our Massachusetts office, who traveled to Guatemala for five days to help orphans and struggling families in and around the nation’s capital, Guatemala City.

On April 23, 2016, Larry set out to Guatemala for the second year in a row with his church, Granite United Church. The church itself was embarking on its fifth trip in the past four years; they’ve also done mission trips to Mexico, Trinidad, and the Bahamans. For each trip, the church has partnered with a group called Manna Worldwide, a Christian non-profit organization striving to “rescue children from the grip of poverty.” Larry made the journey with 25 other church volunteers, taking part in what he called a mix of “faith-based, spiritual and physical missionary work.”

A portion of the church’s time was dedicated to helping out Manna’s orphanage in Guatemala City, which Larry’s church helped build during trips in 2013 and 2014. The facility currently houses 21 children, yet only two are actually eligible for adoption. Larry explained that many of the children in the orphanage had been abused and taken away from their parents by the government, yet they cannot be adopted unless their parents give permission. For that reason, most of the kids are in a sort of family limbo: they have no home, but cannot look forward to adoption. Their ages range from a newborn baby who was recently found abandoned, to about 14 years old. The volunteers spent hours with the kids, running around outside and playing indoor games like Uno.

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Larry and his group stayed in a dorm in Guatemala City at night. By day, they worked directly with a missionary couple who live about 20 minutes away from the orphanage in a town called San Lucas. The missionary couple—one of whom is Mexican, the other from Wisconsin—happen to be builders as well. Over the years, they’ve played an integral role in the group’s other projects: building a feeding center, houses, and wooden beds.

The feeding center and home building were last year’s projects during Larry’s first trip to Guatemala. This took place in a much more rural, largely Mayan part of Guatemala called San Rafael el Arado, or El Arado for short. The volunteers mixed concrete by hand in order to lay the foundation for these buildings, often carrying large bags of cement and cinder blocks up and down steep hills. Two years ago, the family pictured below lived in a house made mostly of sugar cane stalks. They are now pictured in a home the church built. According to Larry, “That tiny woman carried three cinder blocks at a time…with one on her head.”

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The structure that Larry helped to build last year is now a functional feeding facility, community center, and church. He returned there this year to help serve food to the locals. Five times a week the feeding center provides children with what is likely their only substantial meal of the day, typically comprised of rice, beans, meat, and vitamins. About 100 kids are fed each day, many of whom walk over five miles to get there. At home, children in El Arado usually have nothing to eat but corn, which they grind by hand to make corn flour tortillas. “That’s really all they have to eat,” said Larry, “which isn’t the most nutritious.”

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In addition to providing kids with food, Manna also offers vital medical care to El Arado’s children and adults through a clinic. Thanks to generous donations from the United States, the clinic is now fully staffed three days a week. The majority of the medical efforts are dedicated to pregnant women who arrive at the clinic, who are given neonatal vitamins to help healthy child development and prevent birth defects. The center also provides basic first aid; one of Larry’s fellow volunteers was a trained nurse who cleaned a deep wound on a little boy’s foot. Most of the Guatemalan children do not own shoes. Each of the volunteers brought along a large crate as their second luggage, filled with shoes and toys to give out to the children at feeding centers in two villages—Roux helped to fund this last year. Larry recounted, “Both years I went, United Airlines was kind enough to waive our fees for the second bag. Probably saved us about $1,000, money which we could use on other things down there.”

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Larry’s group also helped out by providing lice and foot-worm treatments. Feet were washed and cleaned deeply, and hair was deloused and combed out. Little girls were ecstatic to get ribbons in their hair. Every child was thrilled to get their hands on some toys—favorites included nail polish and soccer balls.

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This year, Larry spent most of his time constructing beds for families in El Arado and impoverished areas of San Lucas. Their homes generally contain a dilapidated bed for parents to sleep on, while children sleep in swinging hammocks, or on the floor. Commonly, beds are their only existing furniture. Larry and his church built beds for families by hand. The long process involved cutting, sanding, staining, and sealing all of the wood; assembling the various pieces of wood into a simple frame; buying mattresses, sheets, and pillows; and finally carrying the beds (often up steep mountains) into their new homes. Lumber is extremely expensive in Guatemala, resulting in a total cost of $150 per bed. Thanks to Roux’s donation along with outside contributions, Larry’s church was able to build 15 beds this year. “The money went a long way,” he reported.

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Last year’s experience for Larry was very different than his trip this past April. He certainly experienced culture shock the first time around. He traveled in three-van convoys on roads with heavy traffic and no speed limits, met people who had to walk hours for food or water, and walked through villages that were littered with stray animals and garbage, stricken with poverty. He found it difficult to pray with the people he met, knowing that at the end of the week he would end up back in America while they continued to struggle.

This year, it became easier to focus on the positive. Larry’s favorite part of the trip was “seeing the kids and the simple joy on their faces.” The convoys drove through two villages to get to El Arado, where families stood in their doorways with blank stares—but as soon as Larry waved to them, the kids’ faces would light up instantly as they waved back with excitement.

One of his favorite stories started with traveling to a home where the only bed had a huge hole in it and had completely collapsed. After her new bed was built, a mother of multiple children was “gushing with thanks.” She then started opening up to some of the Spanish-speaking volunteers about her home life. Her husband had abandoned their family. One of the American volunteers shared that she was going through a similar situation back home. The emotional exchange led the two women to cry, and before long every woman in the room was crying. Even though he doesn’t speak language himself, Larry was touched by the universal experience the women shared, despite coming from two completely different worlds.

Granite United Church’s next adventure will bring them to a cancer hospital in Honduras later this year. Larry plans on traveling back to Guatemala next year to build more beds, or take part in whatever activity the church has planned. His son, who takes Spanish in high school, may accompany him and help to close the language barrier. Roux Associates thanks Larry for the time and effort he has dedicated to this wonderful cause. We look forward to hearing next year’s stories.

Guatemala
Larry McTiernan, standing third from the left, and his fellow church volunteers

Roux Sets Sail in Boston!

Each year individuals from businesses support the Courageous Sailing Summer Youth Program by racing on a company-sponsored boat in the Corporate Challenge. Roux will compete with our company name and logo proudly emblazoned on our boat’s jib sail, while sponsoring 6 children for the week-long Youth Program Sailing 101 course. Courageous Sailing serves 1,000 children each year, most of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn to sail or experience the ocean. The program strives to open up Boston’s youngest generation to the beauty of the ocean, the possibility of maritime careers, and the importance of preserving our environment.

Monday, May 23 marks Roux’s first sail for the 2016 season, where our boat will sail off of Pier 4 in the Charlestown Navy Yard for some fast-paced, college-style, short course keelboat racing.

Click here to discover all of the ways that Courageous Sail helps kids “take a new tack in life” and click here to view all of Roux’s race dates on our CSR calendar.

Courageous Sail