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Odors From Eugene Plant Draw Law Firm's Attention

Brian Bull

A law firm is investigating a Eugene wood treatment facility, following recent complaints of a strong, noxious odor. 

On October 6th, residents near the J.H. Baxter plant reported a smell that one compared to burning rubber. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) linked it to creosote odors coming from the plant. Creosote is a wood preservative distilled from coal tar.

Attorney Chris Nidel of Nidel and Nace PLLC in Washington D.C. says he wants accounts from locals who feel they’ve been affected by the plant.  He has not announced any legal action.  

In a statement to KLCC, J.H. Baxter says it’s working with LRAPA to discover the source of the odor, and it’s invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on emissions equipment.  It’s worked to comply with agencies including the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the EPA for past issues.

A spokesperson from the Oregon DEQ confirms that there have been past violations and issues with the plant, and there is currently a proposed treatment plan that was taking public comments until this past June.  A final decision from DEQ is forthcoming, and focuses on groundwater.

The full statement to KLCC from J.H. Baxter is here:

"J.H. Baxter continues to work closely with the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority to determine what may have caused the odor complaints experienced last weekend.  West Eugene is a heavy industrial area and there are many sources of odor in the area.  J.H. Baxter has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on emissions’ equipment at our Eugene facility.  Most recently Baxter installed a new cooling tower evaporation unit that will further reduce the chance of odor emissions.  Baxter looks forward to continuing its efforts to work closely with regulators to ensure compliance with environmental laws."

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ 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 (22 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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