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Eugene meeting will focus on regulating polluters

Truck entrance of the J.H. Baxter plant in Eugene, January 2022.
Brian Bull
Truck entrance of the J.H. Baxter plant in Eugene, January 2022. The plant closed down on Jan. 21, 2022 after it was found to be releasing dioxins into soil and groundwater.

The Eugene City Council is considering how to better regulate polluting industries. At a meeting Tuesday, the public can learn more about the proposals and share their concerns.

City councilors Randy Groves and Claire Syrett have proposed ways to reduce local industrial pollution and improve public health,

One idea is to create a public health overlay zone for parts of the city with potential polluting industries, like Syrett’s district 7.

“And what it would do would really give the City Council a specific lens by which to look at what’s going on in a particular part of the community,” Syrett said. “And see if we can take action to improve public health outcomes for those residents.”

Lisa Arkin with the non-profit Beyond Toxics, which is sponsoring the event, said she’s pleased City Councilors will consider ways to better regulate industry.

“The three ideas that they’re working with are innovative and they could help protect our community going into the future,” she said. “They could make our air quality better. They could make sure that when a disaster strikes or contamination is found that was caused by a polluter. That there’s money to deal with it.”

Arkin pointed to J. H. Baxter, a wood treatment facility in West Eugene that was for years releasing toxic chemicals into groundwater and soil in the neighborhood. It has since shuttered and she doesn’t think it will be fully held accountable.

The online forum is Tuesday, March 29th from 7-8:30 p.m.. Pre-registration is required.

Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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