Statement from the Health Authorities
The town of Bethel in Eugene, Oregon 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 pentachlorophenol (“PCP”) an industrial wood preservative. 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 of this Facility have likely impacted soil and other environmental receptors in the area. The chemicals used and released by this Facility have been linked with severe health and environmental effects 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 of 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.