Portland's underwater cleanup clay used in other states

Aug 25, 2011

An oil-loving clay used to sop up creosote in the Portland Harbor has been so successful that it will be applied to a much larger project this fall on the Grand Calumet River in Gary, Indiana.

University of Texas Professor Danny Reible worked on the Willamette River cleanup site. Thousands of tons of a specially-formulated clay were used to cap the sediment.

“I believe it’s doing quite a good job of stopping any creosote that might have been released. If you look back at the site 10 to 15 years ago, there were seeps of creosote throughout the site, and now you don’t see any evidence of that. You don’t see the sheen associated with the oil,” Reible said.

The clay, which normally attracts water, was engineered to absorb oil instead. The Portland project was the first large-scale effort to use the clay under water. The sediment cap has been tested multiple times since it was applied in 2004 to make sure it is still working.

Copyright 2011 Oregon Public Broadcasting