EPA ends mills site clean-up

The caution tape is gone and all that remains are partially demolished buildings and piles of decontaminated debris at the former Willamette Industries mill site located at 2210 Tamarack St., near the intersection of Tamarack and 18th streets.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finished an asbestos cleanup on the 153-acre property late last week. Contractors working for the EPA began removing asbestos-containing material from the site in mid-October.

Buildings on the property were partially demolished beginning in 2007 and stopped in February 2008 after asbestos was discovered in the debris left on the ground following the demolition.

The property is owned by Western States Land Reliance Trust. Dan Desler is the managing trustee, and he faces air pollution charges in connection with the demolition.

The EPA removed more than 4 million pounds of asbestos-containing debris from the site, said Judy Smith, community involvement coordinator for the EPA. The debris was taken to Coffin Butte Landfill north of Corvallis.

Cost of the removal has totaled approximately $1.1 million, Smith said.

The EPA sampled the air 280 times during the past month, Smith said. Two samples showed slightly elevated levels, but they were not high enough to shut down the cleanup operation.

Before the remaining structures may be removed, whoever does it will need to take the proper steps and abate the asbestos prior to demolition, Smith said.

Asbestos was present among roofing and concrete debris.

The most “friable” asbestos-containing material was material used to wrap pipes. Friability refers to the ability of asbestos to become airborne.

The debris covers approximately 30,000 square feet in the kiln area and 33,000 square feet in the sorter-stacker area.

“I don’t think there were any big surprises,” Smith said. “It was a good removal that went according to plan.”