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

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Woman of Steel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

Semiconductor purgatory

News
Monday, October 06, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Intel's manufacturing way station; Merkley's attack dog; Diamond Foods gets into the innovation business.


Read more...

Growing a mobility cluster

News
Friday, October 31, 2014
0414 bikes bd2f6052BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland?  The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented.  But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.


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