Sponsored by Lane Powell
Home Back Issues September 2011 Questions linger on pricey toxic cleanup

Questions linger on pricey toxic cleanup

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 

0911_PriceyCleanup
The former McCormick & Baxter creosote factory in North Portland.
// Photo by Michael G. Halle

Environmental officials are quick to assert that Oregon’s most expensive publicly funded cleanup is not failing from an environmental perspective. But from a real estate perspective, the $55 million cleanup of the former McCormick & Baxter creosote factory in North Portland has created complications. The property is located next to a former industrial parcel bought by the University of Portland as part of a campaign to create a new “river campus” on the Willamette River waterfront. But UP has held off buying the McCormick & Baxter property because of concerns about the cleanup.

Rather than haul away several million tons of creosote and contaminated debris, officials opted to contain the pollution with barrier walls and two caps, one in the river and another upland. The upland cap has experienced unexpected stress as a result of the biodegradation of waste wood used as a fill underground. Department of Environmental Quality project manager Scott Manzano says the resulting chemical reaction raised groundwater temperatures to 104 degrees, released methane and created a 75-foot conical depression a foot deep.

Manzano says the chemical reaction and the uneven settling of the ground there was “not expected” but “in no way shape or form is that a failure.” After identifying the problem, environmental contractors cut off the oxygen supply to minimize the chemical reaction.

But UP officials turned skittish after contemplating the liability involved with buying tainted property. They backed away from buying the 43-acre property, which they had hoped to redevelop for recreation fields, sports facilities and environmental labs. The university also got tangled up in a legal battle with the Zidell family over the adjacent property, further delaying expansion.

UP assistant vice president James Kuffner says the university hopes to break ground next year on a new riverfront baseball stadium on the former Zidell property and has not given up on the McCormick & Baxter property. “If the DEQ is feeling they’ve made some strides there, it’s probably time for us to check in with them,” he says.

The university has already invested more than $10 million in the area and is likely a year away from moving dirt.

Ben Jacklet

 

More Articles

Updated: Disrupting innovation

News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
070814 thumb disputive-innovationBY LINDA BAKER  | OB EDITOR

The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation  — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment. 

Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.


Read more...

Fast Food Slows Down

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

Powerlist: Colleges and Universities

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about higher education with the presidents of the University of Oregon and Clackamas Community College, followed by September's powerlist.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS