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JH Baxter's Eugene Location Probed As Possible Contamination Source

JHBaxterEugene01.jpg
Brian Bull
/
KLCC

A wood treatment facility in West Eugene is being scrutinized after elevated levels of toxins were detected in the surrounding vicinity.

Dylan Darling of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality says samples taken around the J.H. Baxter site showed raised levels of dioxins, a toxic group of chemical compounds.

“Three of them along storm water ditches, and one in the Bethel neighborhood, just north of the facility. That’s what’s caused the concern and what we’re trying to look closer at.”

The Lane County Regional Air Protection Authority (LRAPA) is also involved in the probe of the J.H. Baxter facility. Travis Knudsen is a spokesman with LRAPA.

“Because a lot of things potentially going on for awhile, particularly associated with the JH Baxter facility, as Baxter has multiple operational permits.”*

Data so far indicates the facility is a potential source. The dioxin levels do not currently pose an immediate health risk to locals. The Oregon Health Authority is also involved in the investigation.

J.H. Baxter has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

*Knudsen told KLCC later he meant to say "operational" when he initially said "air" in his quote for this story.  This has since been changed to reflect that as of 1:14pm 1/4/2020.

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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