Oregon Wants to Change
by Scott Learn
Oregon environmental regulators are proposing to abandon a plan to partially dredge heavily contaminated Johnson Lake, instead requiring Owens-Brockway Glass Container to leave contaminated sediments in place but spread a six-inch layer of clean cover over the entire lake bed.
The 18-acre lake sits near Interstate 205's junction with the Columbia River, connecting with Whitaker Slough, which feeds into the Columbia Slough. It's contaminated with PCBs, a cancer-causing industrial insulator now banned for most uses.
The new proposal from the Department of Environmental Quality came after Owens-Brockway found thicker sediment and lower concentrations of contamination than expected in the lake's hot spots. Those results would have meant more dredging and more costs than anticipated to hit a target of reducing PCB concentrations in lake sediment by 72 percent, the agency said.
Under the old plan, Owens-Brockway, which has manufactured glass in its plant on the lake's south side since 1956, would have had to dredge 7,500 yards of contaminated sediment from two hot spots at a cost of $1.3 million. Dredging the entire lake would cost too much -- $7.2 million, DEQ said last year.
The new plan calls for spreading a six-inch layer of clean sand over the entire lake bed, with the possibility of using other materials, such as gravel and clay, over the hot spots. The estimated cost is $2.095 million.
DEQ's proposed amendment calls for testing PCB concentrations after the cap is placed, and requiring more material if the 72 percent reduction isn't achieved. It also calls for a fish tissue monitoring study five years after the cap is placed.
Public comments on the amendment are due by June 1.
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