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News Releases from Region 10

Wood treater J.H. Baxter agrees to modify practices, pay penalty for hazardous waste handling, storage violations

09/04/2018
Contact Information: 
Bill Dunbar (dunbar.bill@epa.gov)
206-5553-1019

Seattle – (September 4, 2018) J.H. Baxter & Company has agreed take corrective action at their Eugene, Oregon wood treatment facility for mishandling and improper storage of hazardous waste. They will also pay a $64,000 penalty as part of the agreement.

“These are significant violations of the regulations intended to ensure the safe handling of hazardous waste like creosote and pentachlorophenol,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Compliance and Enforcement Director Ed Kowalski. “It’s especially important to prevent further groundwater contamination, which can leave a harmful legacy to people and the environment.”

In 2014, inspectors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found multiple violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law intended to ensure safe management of hazardous waste from the moment it’s generated to its final disposal.

Specifically, the EPA found staining from the wood preservatives creosote and pentachlorophenol on an asphalt pad outside of a containment area, found an unmarked and undated container of hazardous waste from wood treating activities, and found that Baxter was not adequately cleaning a drip pad to prevent ‘penta’ and creosote from migrating from the containment area.

Baxter is currently working with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to clean up contaminated groundwater at the site, and EPA’s enforcement action is focused on the prevention of recontamination of the soil and groundwater from the operation of the wood treatment facility. 

The company has already taken corrective actions to prevent potential land-based contamination from moving offsite. These actions, which resolve one count of the EPA consent order filed from the 2014 inspection, will help to protect the surrounding community and reduce the necessity for additional future cleanup activities.

The second count of the consent order noted the company’s failure to maintain a waste management plan to be used were the facility to close. While the company has no plans to close the Eugene facility, to resolve this violation, the company has agreed to work with ODEQ to develop such a plan.

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