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EPA settles with Oak Harbor Freight over herbicide spill

Release Date: 11/30/2005
Contact Information: Suszanne Powers
(360) 753-9475

November 30, 2005

Siskiyou Pass, Oregon – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Oak Harbor Freight Lines has agreed to pay a penalty of $61,020 for failing to properly notify emergency response officials after one of its semi-trucks overturned on Interstate 5 near Siskiyou Pass in southern Oregon on October 23, 2004, spilling 500 gallons of an herbicide containing the hazardous chemical 2,4-D.

The 911 operator, the Oregon Emergency Response Center and the National Response Center were not informed of the release of 2,4-D at the time of the spill, and the driver did not have documentation to provide emergency responders with the identity of the chemical released. The spill contaminated a nearby residential drinking water system that is still undergoing clean-up.

Federal laws require facilities that use, store and transport hazardous chemicals to report releases immediately to the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Emergency responders at the scene rely on this information for their safety and that of nearby residents.

At high enough levels, 2,4-D is a chemical that can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys and liver.

As part of the settlement, the company will also provide $14,975 for technical assistance and training for state and local emergency response organizations, and the development of training materials that will enhance operating procedures and spill reporting mechanisms for the trucking industry.

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