Eugene wood company making changes after $64K fine for hazards

An inspection in 2014 revealed J.H. Baxter & Company had hazardous chemicals -- used to protect wood products -- outside the containment area, which could have contaminated the groundwater and soil.

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 6:29 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A wood product company in Eugene is taking action after it was fined $64,000 for mishandling hazardous waste.

Bill Dunbar, a spokesperson with the United States Environmental Protection Agency told KEZI 9 News an inspection in 2014 revealed J.H. Baxter & Company had hazardous chemicals -- used to protect wood products -- outside the containment area, which could have contaminated the groundwater and soil.

Dunbar said the company is working with their organization and the DEQ to clean up the area and are putting prevention measures in place so it doesn't happen again.

He said luckily, they discovered the hazards early, and neighbors nearby don’t need to be concerned.

“The violations that we noted and that are being resolved with this action don't pose a risk to neighbors,” Dunbar said. “We seemed to have caught this very early so there was not a significant amount of migration at all from the controlled areas where they're allowed to store this hazardous waste."

KEZI spoke to Charles Purkrebitz, who lives near the facility. He said he uses a water pump that gets water from underground, and he's still concerned for his safety.

"I'd like to be safe because even though you don't use the water on vegetables and stuff like that, you could get it on you," Purkrebitz said. "Take out the hose ... gets on you ... so I’d like to feel more secure."

KEZI spoke with other neighbors who said they are not worried about potential hazards from that 2014 inspection as long as the company continues to do their part to resolve the situation.

Staff with J.H. Baxter & Company sent a statement in response to the 2014 inspection. They said they are working with the EPA and Oregon DEQ and have reached an agreement to resolve the issue. They also noted they have no plans of closing the facility as they continue to work with the two agencies.

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