• Michael O'Connor

DEQ reaches agreement with J.H. Baxter: Eugene wood preserver to owe full fine and address violation

Eugene, OR [OREGON DEQ]—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and J.H. Baxter & Co., Inc. entered into a settlement agreement on July 14, 2022, over a penalty for multiple hazardous waste and water quality violations.

Baxter has dropped its appeal of DEQ’s enforcement action, so the civil penalty and order are now final. In the agreement, DEQ is requiring the company to pay $305,440 for violations and take corrective actions to address water quality and hazardous waste violations at the facility. The settlement between DEQ and Baxter avoids a costly hearing before an administrative law judge, which had been scheduled for early August. DEQ’s cleanup program continues to investigate and plan for cleanup of contaminated soil on properties near Baxter. DEQ also continues to oversee Baxter’s compliance with the water quality permit and hazardous waste regulations at the facility.

DEQ issued an amended notice of civil penalty and order to Baxter on May 4, 2022, adding new violations that include storing hazardous waste longer than allowed, failing to properly label containers of hazardous waste, and allowing untreated stormwater overflows in December 2021 and January 2022. The amended order superseded the original notice that DEQ issued on March 3, 2021. The total penalty increased by $82,000, from $223,440 to $305,440.

The company owns a wood preserving facility in west Eugene, where it stopped treating wood in late January. The closure did not end DEQ’s regulation of the facility, including the enforcement case for hazardous waste and water quality violations. In the off-site soil investigation in the nearby neighborhood, DEQ's cleanup program collected 27 samples from residential properties, and is waiting on the results to determine if more than three yards need to be cleaned up this year.

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