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J.H. Baxter

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The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality required J.H. Baxter & Co., owner of a wood treatment facility in Eugene, to collect soil samples in nearby residential yards to determine if contaminants from the facility have accumulated in the neighborhood. DEQ is requiring the company to cleanup three yards as soon as possible due to initial sampling results that found concerning levels of dioxins. The department also determined that three other yards will need cleanup to lower long-term health risks posed by dioxins. DEQ is working on a cleanup plan for the first three yards and their cleanup may be completed in summer 2022. 

DEQ is working with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to collect soil samples in residential yards near Baxter to determine if contaminants from the facility have accumulated in the neighborhood. Twenty-two yards were sampled in May of 2022, and results will be available later this summer.

DEQ is also working on additional soil sampling to better understand the extent of contamination, with sampling moving farther from the facility. DEQ's area of interest and investigation includes properties east of La Casa Street, west of Alva Park Drive, south of Elmira Road and north of Roosevelt Boulevard. DEQ currently does not expect dioxin soil contamination from Baxter to extend to properties outside this area. Property owners will be contacted prior to sampling. Dioxins are a class of chemicals that result from industrial and natural processes. Depending on the level of exposure, dioxins can increase the risk of cancer and the risk of other health effects. For more information, go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's webpage about dioxins

Community engagement

DEQ has formed a technical work group which includes OHA, Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, and the City of Eugene to investigate the sources and extent of the contamination and to further evaluate any potential risks to the community.

Further, the agencies developed a community engagement core team. This core team will work closely with the technical work group to help inform the investigation, as well as share information with the general community.

Story Map: The J.H. Baxter & Co. Wood Treatment Facility in West Eugene
Community Engagement Core Team Notes, by meeting date
The following notes were provided by the meeting facilitator.



​The 31-acre site at 85 Baxter Street has been an active wood treatment facility since the early 1940s. Historical spills and operational practices have resulted in soil and groundwater c​ontamination.  Further, the facility has had issues with air emissions and concerns from residents about odors and possible, related health effects.  

Over the years, DEQ and LRAPA have investigated the facility and issued numerous enforcement actions and required cleanup measures. In October 2019, DEQ issued a cleanup plan, called a Record of Decision, which required this offsite sampling along with other cleanup actions onsite. Also in 2019, LRAPA included Baxter in the first set of facilities in Lane County to go through the Cleaner Air Oregon process. 

DEQ received results from eight off-site soil samples required under the October 2019 cleanup plan for J.H. Baxter's (Baxter) wood treatment facility in Eugene. ​

Four results, including one in the Bethel Neighborhood directly north of the facility and three stormwater ditch locations, indicated elevated levels of dioxins, a group of toxic chemicals.

Oregon Health Authority reviewed these draft results and determined the levels do not represent a public health risk. However, the levels in those four samples are elevated above DEQ's standard residential cleanup levels so this means that the soils need to be further investigated to determine if corrective action and cleanup is needed.

Next steps

Additional sampling of air, water, and soil will be completed with oversight from the technical work group. Communications with the public will continue through the community engagement core team as more information becomes available through this winter and next spring.

Where can I get more information?

The Sampling and Analysis Plan is available in DEQ's Environmental Cleanup Site Information database.

  • Information on the Cleaner Air Oregon process can be found on LRAPA's website.  

  • Information on environmental health assessment can be found on OHA's web page.

Contacts

Dylan Darling 
DEQ Public Affairs Specialist
541-600-6119

Travis Knudsen
LRAPA Public Information Officer
541-736-1056 ext. 217

OHA Environmental Health Assessment Program
971-673-0482