Eugene, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are looking into findings of elevated levels of dioxins, a group of toxic chemical compounds, in soil samples around J.H. Baxter’s facility in Eugene, including one sample near residential properties immediately north of the facility.
The levels of dioxins do not pose an immediate health risk to residents of the neighborhood. However, they do indicate the need for more investigation to better understand the source(s), extent of the contamination, determine next steps, and if cleanup may be needed.
Data collected so far indicates Baxter is a potential source of the dioxins, but additional sources may be identified during the investigation.
Additionally, DEQ has served Baxter with a pre-enforcement notice for several violations of hazardous waste and water quality regulations, ranging from Class I (most serious) to Class III (less serious) violations. It is currently unclear if these violations contributed to the elevated levels of dioxins in soil near the site, but this will be part of the investigation.
DEQ’s Cleanup, Hazardous Waste, and Water Quality programs have formed a technical work group with the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA), the City of Eugene, and the OHA to oversee a comprehensive investigation of environmental concerns at Baxter. Additionally, the agencies are forming a community engagement group to have meaningful conversations with public stakeholders on the available information as well as to understand and address concerns from those living near the facility. This group will have its first meeting in December, led by a professional facilitator, and will develop a timeline for future public engagement as the investigation continues. The technical work group is meeting weekly and working with Baxter to develop a plan for additional sampling by January.
DEQ mailed residents in the neighborhood where soil samples were collected informing them of the elevated levels of dioxins as well as ways to participate in future community engagement.
For additional information on DEQ’s ongoing investigation of Baxter as well as information on how to participate in community engagement, visit DEQ’s informational website.
LRAPA’s website for Baxter’s progress through Cleaner Air Oregon can be found here.
Dylan Darling, DEQ Western Region public affairs specialist
Travis Knudsen, LRAPA Public Affairs Manager, 541-736-1056 ext. 217, email@example.com