Dec 10, 2020

Toxins Found in Soil Near Wood Treatment Facility

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority are studying elevated levels of dioxins in soil samples

soil stabilization

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority are looking into elevated levels of dioxins in soil samples taken around the J.H. Baxter Street wood treatment facility.

One sample was near residential properties and those levels of dioxins around the facility do not pose an immediate health risk to residents of the neighborhood, according to DEQ spokesperson Dylan Darling, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting. 

Eight off-site soil samples were given to DEQ and four results, including one in the Bethel neighborhood directly north of the facility and three storm water ditch locations, showed elevated levels of dioxins.

Based on the results, there is a need for further investigation to understand the source and the extent of the contamination. 

“We found enough dioxins in the soil that it’s worth looking into,” said Darling. “That doesn’t mean that there’s a public health problem, but does means we need more evaluation.”

The 31-acre site at 85 Baxter St. has been an active wood treatment facility since the early 1940s and since then, spills and operational practices have resulted in soil and groundwater ​contamination, according to the DEQ release. 

The facility has experienced issues with air emissions and concerns from residents about odors related to the facility. To mitigate the issue, the DEQ created a technical work group with the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, the city of Eugene and OHA to oversee a comprehensive investigation of the environmental concerns at Baxter. A plan for additional sampling by January is in the works.

The agencies will form a community engagement group to address concerns from those living near the facility, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting. 

Over the next few months, DEQ will be working with LRAPA and OHA to collect soil samples from private property to complement current specimens from public rights of way, including ditches and storm water culverts in the surrounding property.

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