Portland Harbor Sustainability Project Provides a Multi-Disciplinary Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability Analysis of Remediation Alternatives for a Major Superfund Site

03 January 2017
By Dr. David Harrison and Conor Coughlin

NERA Managing Director Dr. David Harrison and Analyst Conor Coughlin recently authored an article in the American Bar Association’s Superfund and Natural Resource Damages Litigation Committee Newsletter that described the Portland Harbor Sustainability Project (PHSP), a year-long and multi-disciplinary evaluation that brought together a team of environmental, economic, and social experts from AECOM Technology Services, NERA Economic Consulting, and SEA Environmental Decisions, respectively.

The PHSP evaluated five of the Environmental Protection Agency’s remedial alternatives for the Portland Harbor Superfund site based on indicators of environmental quality, economic viability, and social equity, the three “pillars” of a sustainability analysis. The authors provided an overview of the three pillars of sustainability, as applied to the Portland Harbor site, as well as conclusions regarding the relative sustainability of EPA's remedial alternatives. In addition to its use for Portland Harbor, the authors note that the multi-disciplinary framework developed for the PHSP can be applied in other settings as a tool to inform environmental decision-making for complex sediment remedies. Indeed, the tool could be used early in the remediation process at other Superfund sites to encourage a collaborative process of decision-making.