Eugene, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $223,440 penalty Wednesday to J.H. Baxter & Co. for hazardous waste and water quality violations at its wood preserving facility in Eugene.
The majority of the penalty – $178,905 – is for the unpermitted treatment of hazardous waste. Baxter improperly treated about 1.7 million gallons of hazardous waste without a DEQ permit over a five-year period, according to the notice of civil penalty assessment and order. DEQ found that Baxter illegally used its retorts to boil off, or evaporate, liquid process waste containing mixtures of water, oil, and the wood-preserving chemicals. Retorts are large chambers where the company pressure treats wood. Baxter is no longer using retorts to evaporate liquid process waste.
DEQ is also fining Baxter $14,735 for allowing untreated stormwater and water removed from boilers to overflow into a storm ditch leading to Amazon Creek during two weather events in spring of 2019, exceeding permitted limits for copper in treated stormwater discharge, as well as fining Baxter or citing the company without fine for other hazardous waste and water quality violations.
The violations posed risks to the environment and public health. Along with the civil penalties, DEQ is ordering Baxter to create three plans for investigation and sampling to better understand and mitigate impacts of the violations to the environment, and to prevent potential future violations. The plans would assess the potential impacts associated with the release of hazardous waste and improve stormwater management at the facility.
Baxter may appeal the alleged violations within 20 calendar days of receiving the penalty notice.
The fines are not due to recent findings of high levels of dioxins in neighboring soils, which is the subject of a separate ongoing investigation.
View the full enforcement documents here: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/nr/032021JHBaxter.pdf
Media contact: Dylan Darling, DEQ Western Region public affairs specialist, 541-600-6119, email@example.com