Environmental Cleanup

Hazardous Substances

What qualifies as a hazardous substance?

Typical hazardous substances are asbestos-containing material (ACM), stockpiled waste tires, landfill gas (methane), solvents, and petroleum products. For a complete list, see EPA’s List of Lists.

Does having a contained hazardous substance onsite qualify the site for funding?

There needs to be a confirmed or suspected release of a hazardous substance to qualify for SWOSA funds in accordance with ORS 465.200(1). Having a hazardous substance onsite which is contained (e.g., window putty containing asbestos, floor tiles containing asbestos) and not at risk of threatening human health or the environment may not qualify.
If in doubt, please inquire.

How much of a hazardous substance does there need to be to qualify?

There only needs to be a release or a potential release of a hazardous substance for a site to qualify for SWOSA funding, providing it meets the other criteria.

Foreclosure, Inheritance & the Responsible Parties

Are parties who have acquired properties that are contaminated or suspected to be contaminated with hazardous substances through foreclosure or inheritance liable for the cleanup costs?

Solid Waste Orphan sites that come into a local government’s control through involuntary means (i.e., tax foreclosure) are not usually liable for the cleanup costs under Oregon law.

Someone who inherited a contaminated property and did not contribute to or conduct any actions that resulted in a release is not liable and, therefore, not a responsible party. See ORS 465.255(3) for a full list of exclusions.

However, people are expected to do their due diligence and research the property before purchasing, or they may be liable for cleanup and abatement costs if they purchase a contaminated site. See ORS 465.255(1) for details.

Natural Disasters

If there is a flood or a fire that destroys property, and there are suspected hazardous substance releases, does that qualify for SWOSA?

Example: The floods in 2019 destroyed much of Pendleton, OR washed away infrastructure, and left solid waste stacked in people’s properties. These floods may have inadvertently released hazardous substances.

Local government sites do qualify for SWOSA funding if a natural disaster causes a release of hazardous substances if, for example, the flood washed away the cap to a landfill. The local government could apply for funding to help clean up and remediate the release.

Solid Waste Orphan sites do not qualify for SWOSA funding for waste removal if the cause of the waste accumulation is a natural disaster, such as the flood. The site needs to be, or has been, a solid waste disposal site and would need to have qualified for SWOSA funding independently of problems caused by a disaster.

Other natural disasters include earthquakes, fire, volcanic eruptions, flooding, etc.

Statutes and Rules

OAR 340-122-0510 – 0590
ORS 459.005 – 311
ORS 465.200 – 990


For answers to any additional questions or assistance in applying for funding, please contact Oregon’s SWOSA project manager:

James Heintz

700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600
Portland, OR 97232