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State Agency Approves Clean-Up Plan At Eugene Railyards

Bruce Fingerhood

An environmental clean-up plan for Eugene’s railyard has been given the OK from the state.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, it will tackle several decades’ worth of steady pollution.

Since the early 1990s, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has investigated the large rail facility on Bethel Drive. It found groundwater contaminated by solvents, as well as metals and petroleum beneath parts of the River Road and Trainsong neighborhoods.

Credit Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality
Eugene Railyard study area, DEQ.

Jim Glass is a natural resource specialist with the DEQ.  He says the latest plan builds on others done in the previous decade. He adds the most concerning issue for area landowners is possible groundwater ingestion. However…

“We don’t know of anyone that is using wells in this area. Everybody’s on city water, or EWEB actually provides water in this area," Glass tells KLCC. 

"So the concentrations that are there are low enough, that it doesn’t pose any risk for backyard use, watering the vegetables, washing the car, filling up the pool, those kinda of things.”

Union Pacific is taking on the cost of cleaning up the affected part of the Eugene Railyards under the DEQ’s Voluntary Clean-up Program.  A company spokesman declined to say how much this will cost, but cleanup should be done by summer.

Copyright 2018, 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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