The town of Bethel has shared its air and groundwater with J.H. Baxter and Company for over 100-years. During this period, the chemicals used in wood processing and treatment have taken their toll on the local environment. There is an identified plume of groundwater that has been seeping out into the neighboring community of Bethel for decades, containing several toxic chemicals including pentachlorphenol (“PCP”). The levels of PCP found in the groundwater are over 4,000 parts per billion, which is 10,000 times the safe drinking water standard for California. In addition to groundwater, the activities as this Facility have likely had impacts to soil and other environmental receptors in the area. The chemicals used and released by this Facility have been linked with serious health and environmental impacts including cancers and other diseases.
According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the facility has been under regulatory orders due to environmental conditions since the mid-to-late 1980s. However, it does not appear that, despite state attention to the impacts from the Facility, anything has been done to identify and remediate off-site soil contamination from its operations:
The primary remaining RI tasks include completion of the ecological risk assessment, determination of the presence and/or extent of off-site arsenic and PAH contamination in soil, revision of the human health risk assessment, and identification of “hot spots” of contamination.
Thus, it is highly likely, though currently unknown, what the extent of off-site contamination is in the community.