Most City offices closed Wednesday, June 19, to observe Juneteenth

The City of Portland recognizes Juneteenth as a formal day of remembrance to honor Black American history and the end of slavery in the United States. Learn about Juneteenth.

Prevent Pollution when Loading and Unloading Materials

Outdoor loading and unloading of materials can introduce pollutants into the stormwater system or surface waters like a river or stream if allowed to mix with rain or runoff or if a spill occurs. Learn how to prevent pollution and meet city requirements.

The City's Role

The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to set rules and regulations to protect the city's sewer and stormwater systems and its watersheds. Environmental Services works with business and industry to meet these requirements.

Outdoor loading and unloading of materials and the increased vehicle traffic associated with those activities can introduce pollutants into the stormwater system if allowed to mix with rain and runoff or if a spill occurs. Many storm drains in Portland flow directly to a river or stream. Pollutants in stormwater runoff can impact surface waters, reduce water quality, and harm fish and other aquatic life.

Rules and Regulations

The 2020 Source Control Manual describes requirements for material transfer areas and loading docks that all new and remodeled facilities must meet. The requirements go beyond what is described on this page and include pavement, drainage, and shut-off valves to keep unloading area leaks, drips, and spills contained and to prevent mobilization of contaminants. 

Portland City Code 17.39 prohibits the discharge of harmful substances into the stormwater system. The discharge of spilled materials may result in investigations, issuance of penalties, and required corrective actions.

Prevent Pollution through Best Management Practices

  • Cover designated loading and unloading areas to reduce exposure of materials to rain.
  • Place seals or door skirts between the delivery vehicle and the building to prevent exposure of material to rain.
  • Install grading, curbs, or berms to prevent stormwater from running onto the loading area.
  • Inspect the loading and unloading areas for dust, fumes, or stains to determine if materials are being spilled or lost during transfer operations.
  • If loading and unloading cannot be done undercover, conduct these activities in dry weather if possible.
  • Check delivery vehicles and equipment for leaks. Repair and clean up leaks promptly.
  • Inspect and clean loading areas frequently.
  • Ensure that staff are present during loading and unloading to detect and clean up spills immediately.
  • Prepare and implement a spill prevention and response plan and post emergency numbers.
  • Install and maintain properly stocked spill kits in the area and ensure spill kits are compatible with materials transferred.
  • If materials transferred at the loading dock will be potentially harmful to the environment or inhibit the sewer system's function, install a shut off valve at the loading dock drainage.
  • If wastes are stored in the loading dock area, ensure they are stored in covered, labeled, lidded, and leak-proof containers to minimize contact with rain. Ensure proper disposal of wastes.

Failure to implement applicable best management practices may result in the discharge of pollutants, which is a violation of Portland City Code. The City will issue enforcement action in the form of a civil penalty if pollutants are discharged from your facility. Appropriate measures to prevent the discharge of pollutants are required.