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WED History

The Evolution of WED

In 1961, amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act authorized the establishment of seven laboratories in specified regions of the United States. Oregon State University was selected as the site for one of these, the Pacific Northwest Water Laboratory. The University had strong ecological research programs in areas of interest associated with the proposed laboratory, and cooperation was extensive from the start. Temporary offices were opened in 1963; the main laboratory building was completed in 1966. The facility initially was part of the U.S. Public Health Service.

The facility was transferred to the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration within the Department of Interior in 1967, and its mission shifted from regional technical support to conducting and managing national research in water pollution control. The facility took the lead in research on lake eutrophication, coastal pollution, water quality criteria, gas supersaturation, thermal pollution, sediment criteria, and waste treatment for pulp, paper, and food processing industries.

The facility became part of the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and, soon thereafter, was named one of four national research centers. A nationwide network of nine laboratories and six field stations reported to the Corvallis Center. The Center's activities rapidly expanded far beyond the original mandate of research on causes and effects of water pollution. In 1972, EPA scientists studying air pollution effects on vegetation were transferred from an EPA laboratory in North Carolina to Corvallis. This marked the entrance of the Corvallis facility into the emerging field of air pollution and ecological research.

A reorganization in 1975 altered EPA's research centers by having individual research laboratories report directly to Washington, DC. The revamped Corvallis laboratory was named the Environmental Research Laboratory - Corvallis and its responsibilities were broadened to include diverse programs in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environment research.

EPA and its predecessor agencies have stationed marine scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, since 1965. A 40,000 square foot EPA marine laboratory was completed at Newport in October 1990.

A realignment brought the Corvallis facility under the new National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in spring 1995, at which time the Corvallis and Newport labs were merged to form the Western Ecology Division.


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