In 2020, Multnomah County Office of Sustainability and City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Management commissioned a study of the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub in Northwest Portland. The study is intended to characterize and quantify the anticipated damages from the CEI Hub in the event of the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake or other seismic event.
The CEI Hub is a six-mile stretch of industrial development along the west shore of the Willamette River. More than 90% of all liquid fuel in Oregon is stored at facilities in the CEI Hub. This includes the gas and diesel supply for the Portland metro area, as well as all of the jet fuel for the Portland International Airport. Other hazardous materials are also stored at the CEI Hub.
The CEI Hub — built before our current understanding of the region’s earthquake risk — sits on unstable soil subject to liquefaction and lateral spreading in an earthquake. Because the CEI Hub is so close to the Willamette River and the dense urban core in the City of Portland, the risk of an accident, spill, or major infrastructure failure is particularly concerning as the region’s earthquake’s risks are now well-known and well-documented. There is an estimated 26% likelihood of a major seismic event in the next 50 years.
While the firms that own and operate facilities in the CEI Hub bear some of the risks of a major failure through insurance and other mechanisms, it is unclear whether owner-operators in the CEI hub would be able to pay for damage and recovery after a major earthquake. There is a risk that the public would not only bear the immediate impacts, but also significant costs for such a clean-up, an outcome unacceptable to City and County residents and taxpayers. The aim of the study is to better understand and, if necessary, rebalancing risk in subsequent actions to adhere to a principle of “polluter pays.”
Part of the study includes gathering public input during the drafting phase to help ensure all available information has been collected to accurately characterize the risk. The project team has requested public input from Tribal Governments, nearby communities and neighborhood associations that may be impacted by potential failures at the CEI Hub, as well as the community at large.
You can download the report and a presentation that provides a high-level overview of the studies findings to date.