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DHS news release

April 18, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Kate Toepel, 503-731-4025

Follow-up health report on J.H. Baxter Company released, public comment invited

The Oregon Department of Human Services today released an evaluation of the public health impact of air contaminants from the J.H. Baxter wood-processing facility in northwest Eugene, and invited public comment to the report.

The report finds that residents are not expected to become chronically ill from the creosote emissions. However, they may experience physical symptoms related to the unpleasant odor, such as burning nose and watery eyes.

The evaluation, based on new air monitoring data from the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, is a follow-up to one completed in 2004 by the DHS Public Health Division's Superfund Health Investigation and Education (SHINE) program.

The J.H. Baxter Company treats wood products such as utility poles and railroad ties with creosote and other chemicals. For years, residents of nearby neighborhoods have complained about odors and expressed health concerns related to air emissions from the facility.

In 2005 the company made changes to decrease the odors being emitted, but the report recommends additional actions to further reduce odors. It also states:

  • Additional air monitoring around the J.H. Baxter facility might be useful to better characterize the emission concentrations in each area where residents have detected odors.
  • Report findings will be revisited if additional air monitoring becomes available and results differ substantially from the current findings.
  • Additional outreach and education in the Bethel, River Road and Trainsong neighborhoods will be conducted as needed and at the request of the community.