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Willamette Cove - East Parcel Beach
Willamette Cove

EHAP finalized a Health Consultation (pdf) for the East Parcel Beach portion of Willamette Cove. This final report incorporates comments received during the public comment period. Some changes were made to the document based on public comments received, however the conclusions and recommendations remain the same.

This fact sheet (pdf) provides a summary of the report.


Main conclusions and recommendations:

  • This is an area of public health concern;
  • The public should avoid the Willamette Cove area. Children and pregnant and nursing women in particular should stay away from the site; 
  • A more comprehensive sampling of the Willamette Cove area needs to be conducted;
  • Metro should continue their current efforts to keep people from recreating on the East Parcel Beach;
  • Agencies should prioritize the site sampling and clean-up because the site is attractive and easy to access;

Background:

Willamette Cove was purchased by Metro in 1996, with the intent to re-develop it into an urban natural area and extend the Willamette River Greenway trail system. These plans were delayed when the Portland Harbor was listed on the national priorities list (superfund) in 2000, because the site is located within the Portland Harbor Superfund site. Map of the property (pdf). 

Since the 1930s, Willamette Cove has been used for industrial purposes. The site has been the location of a plywood mill, a barrel-making plant, a ship-building and ship-breaking facility and a dry dock for ship maintenance. Metro and the Port of Portland are working cooperatively with Oregon Department of Environmental quality (DEQ) to clean up contamination on the site. Historic photo of the McCormick & Baxter and Willamette Cove industrial operations from 1940 (pdf).

In 2003, EHAP reported on the physical hazards at Willamette Cove. Since then, many of the hazards have been removed. However, there are still physical hazards present that could cause injury including submerged metal and other debris.

More information on Willamette Cove:

Information on the health effects of lead: 
Lead is a poison that affects every organ and system in the body. Young children are especially at risk for lead poisoning because lead can slow their growth and development. The effects of lead on a child can be permanent and irreversible. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful. Infants, children and unborn babies are the most susceptible to the effects of lead poisoning, which can include lifelong learning, behavioral and developmental problems.

Signs of lead exposure are not always easy to see. Children can be poisoned by lead and may not look or act sick. Sometimes the vague symptoms may be mistaken for other illnesses such as stomach upset or flu.

How do children come into contact with lead?
The most common lead hazards come from lead-based paint and the dust that it generates. Remodeling and home maintenance activities, older plumbing fixtures and parents bringing lead dust home on their clothing or shoes from hobby and workplace activities are also significant sources of lead. Other sources include children's jewelry, toys and old play structures, contaminated dirt, some types of traditional pottery, home remedies and cosmetics, as well as some types of Mexican candy.

Prevention:

  • Eating a well-balanced diet is very important, because children with empty stomachs absorb more lead than children with full stomachs. Provide your child with four to six small healthy meals during the day and make sure to include foods that are rich in calcium and iron. Having enough calcium and iron can reduce the amount of lead a child absorbs. Eating foods with vitamin C helps increase the amount of iron in the blood.  
  • Keep children and pregnant and nursing mothers away from home renovation and repair activities, and follow EPA's safe renovation guidelines (pdf).
  • Always wash hands before eating, and teach children how to wash their hands as early as they are able to learn. Because children spend so much time on the ground, and engage in much more hand-to mouth activities, vacuum and dust the home regularly using wet methods to avoid spreading dust. If possible, fit your vacuum with a HEPA filter, which can capture the very small lead particles.
  • Take off shoes and work clothes before entering the home.
  • For more information on how to protect yourself and your family from lead exposure, visit the Oregon Health Authority's lead poisoning prevention website.