The owner of a 150-acre property that was once home to farmland in Salem plans to transport soil that contains the insecticide dieldrin from the site to a farm outside Keizer where it will be used to fill in two abandoned quarries. DEQ is reviewing public comments on the plan and could choose to approve, deny or modify the plan after its review.
The current owner of the Salem property, I&E Construction Inc., plans to build a housing development known as Northstar on the site, which is located along Kale Road in Salem (Marion County map 062W32C, tax lots 200, 701, 800, 900 and 1000.)
Dieldrin has been found in soil from the surface to 30 inches below ground at levels above DEQ’s standards considered safe for residential ingestion, skin contact and inhalation. The developer joined DEQ’s Voluntary Cleanup program so that the contamination could be cleaned up to DEQ’s standards before the site was developed.
Over 350 soil samples from the site were analyzed for dieldrin. The property owner wants to excavate and remove all soil above this standard before developing the property. Under the plan, about 152,000 cubic yards of soil will be removed from the site and transported by covered trucks to a farm at 6848 Windsor Island Road, Keizer. The transport route is approximately 5.3 miles via Hazelgreen Rd NE, continuing west to Chemawa Road/Lockhaven Dr, and north on Windsor Island Road.
The soil will be used to fill two abandoned quarries on the farm site. While the dieldrin levels in the soil are slightly above DEQ’s residential screening levels, they should be safe for farm use. One of the quarries on the Windsor Island Road property is in a floodplain, the developer will need a floodplain development permit from Marion County before filling the site. Portions of this quarry are also in a wetlands so the developer will also need a state removal/fill permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands. It may also need a permit for filling wetlands from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Once the quarries are filled, the developer plans to cap them with 3 feet of clean topsoil.
Soil will not be transported and reused off-site until DEQ reviews and responds to public comments, and has made a final decision regarding the remedial action, and specifically the off-site soil reuse plan.
What Other Requirements Are in Place?
Restrictions will be placed on the property where the soil is being placed to document the area and provide an advisory regarding any concerns DEQ may have with the future use of the land in this area.
Workers will be required to control dust and conduct air monitoring during any excavation work.
August 2017 Update
DEQ closed the public comment period on Aug. 14, after a two-week extension and is currently reviewing and preparing responses to the comments.
DEQ allowed the developer to start preliminary excavation work on the east side of the property on August 7, 2017, after approving dust control and air monitoring plan. The developer has excavated two small areas of contaminated soil on the eastern part of the property and stockpiled this soil on the western part of the site with a silt fence placed around it to prevent runoff and erosion. The soil will be spread out and seeded with fast-growing grass seed. Soil will not be transported offsite until DEQ reviews and responds to public comment and makes a final decision regarding the transport and placement of the soil.
During the first and second weeks of excavation work there was an industrial hygienist or technician onsite site for a week. Because results from air monitoring showed no dieldrin in dust samples, DEQ didn’t require further monitoring or oversight. The contractor will continue with dust suppression and mitigation efforts to limit dust during excavation work.
Once contaminated soil is removed from the east part of the site, the developer plans to regrade the area and develop the infrastructure (i.e. utilities, road bed). Offsite soil transport or work on the west side of the property will not begin until after all comments are addressed and a final plan is approved.
The site has been farmed since the 1890s. Row crops were grown in the earlier years and grass and grain crops in more recent years. Strawberries were grown on portions of the property in the 1950s and 1960s.
Dieldrin, banned for decades, is considered a legacy pesticide and remains in the environment long after its use. Dieldren was legal and widely used in the Willamette Valley and throughout the U.S. from the 1950s to the 1970s on many crops, including strawberries and corn. Due to how long it takes for dieldrin to break down in the environment, detection in agricultural soils in the valley is relatively common, but at very low levels as is the case here.
Detection of dieldrin and other legacy pesticides in soil is not new or unexpected. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “dieldrin is everywhere in the environment but at very low levels.”