For the past three months, thousands of truckloads of pesticide-contaminated soil have wound their way through Keizer neighborhoods, from a former farm in North Salem to two abandoned quarries six miles away.
Now, developers are asking the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to close out the environmental cleanup project, allowing homes and apartments to be built on most of the site.
The public can comment on the request through July 15.
Clackamas-based developer I&E Construction is nearing the end of what turned into a controversial plan to clean up the 150-acre property at 4985 Kale St. NE, which had been contaminated with the chemical dieldrin from previous farm use.
DEQ’s proposed “no further action” determination is for the western part of the property. The developer already has begun installing infrastructure there.
Cleanup on the eastern portion of the site finished in June 2018, and homes have been built there.
About 10 acres still need to have soil removed.
Dieldrin is a breakdown product of the insecticide aldrin, which was banned for crop use in 1970. It persists in soil for years and can accumulate up the food chain.
I&E Construction plans to build a housing development called Northstar on the site.
In November 2017, DEQ officials approved the plan to truck the soil from the site to fill two former quarries on a farm north of Keizer, where it would be declared clean fill dirt.
But neighbors and government agencies raised alarms, saying the plan had the potential to contaminate groundwater and surface water and could spread contaminated dust as the dirt was trucked through neighborhoods, passing three schools.
In response, DEQ required the developer to cover the trucks and use dust-control measures at the site.
Last week, neighborhood leader Nichole Tarter said some residents have complained of excess dust and uncovered trucks.
“So that tells me they weren’t doing it every time,” she said.
However, DEQ has not received any complaints about dust or uncovered trucks, spokeswoman Katherine Benenati said.
I&E Construction did not respond to interview requests.
Meanwhile, the developer is stockpiling some of the soil on the site until it gets permission to fill part of a quarry that is in a wetland.
The Oregon Department of State Lands must issue a permit for that work.
To comment, email DEQ Project Manager Nancy Sawka at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. July 15.