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. The company stopped wood treating activities in early 2022 and did not have the ability to pay for additional work. DEQ's contractor and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified seven homes needing cleanup as soon as possible due to concerning levels of dioxins. DEQ will be collecting additional samples to make sure that all contaminated soil is removed and replaced with clean soil in these seven yards. The additional sampling will take place later in 2022 or in early 2023, with yard cleanups taking place as early as possible in 2023.
The EPA sampled 22 yards and identified a number of additional yards that will need cleanup eventually. DEQ has requested that EPA collect additional yard samples further north and east of the yards already sampled. This sampling will be done later in 2022 or in early 2023.
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 web page about dioxins
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 contamination. 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.
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.
The J.H. Baxter & Co. Wood Treatment Facility in West Eugene
Community Engagement Core Team Notes
The following notes were provided by the meeting facilitator.
- Meeting 16, Sept. 8, 2022
- Meeting 15, June 28, 2022
- Meeting 14, May 17, 2022
- Meeting 13, April 4, 2022
- Meeting 12, Jan. 27, 2022
- Meeting 11, Jan. 25, 2022
- Meeting 10, Nov. 16, 2021
- Meeting 9, Nov. 2, 2021
- Meeting 8, Sept. 7, 2021
- Meeting 7, July 26, 2021
- Meeting 6, June 23, 2021
- Meeting 5, May 26, 2021
- Meeting 4, April 7, 2021
- Meeting 3, March 3, 2021
- Meeting 2, Jan. 27, 2021
- Meeting 1, Dec. 10, 2020
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.