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DEQ pushes back schedule of soil removal from homes near J.H. Baxter facility

Brian Bull
The J.H. Baxter plant in west Eugene, which closed January 31, 2022.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality says it’s delaying removal of soil with elevated levels of dioxins near the J.H. Baxter plant in Eugene.

Testing from last fall showed signs of the chemical compound in some yards and gardens.

DEQ spokesman Dylan Darling said initially, the plan was to start trucking away dirt from select residences near the Baxter site which closed in January. Now that’ll be done later in the summer.

Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality
An aerial photo shows residences around the J.H. Baxter plant that are slated for soil analysis for dioxins.

”And that’s due to the complexity of individual removal plans," explained Darling. "Every yard cleanup will be unique. It takes substantial time and effort to secure contractors, sub-contractors, develop and review work plans, and coordinate with property owners.”

Darling added they’ll take more soil samples from area residences. He says the exact costs of removing the soil remains unknown, though it’s likely to run into tens of thousands of dollars.

The DEQ will tap what’s called an Industrial Orphan Site Fund, though the J.H. Baxter company remains a “responsible party.”

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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