Regulators Re-authorize Use of Penta at Oregon Plant

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Pacific Wood Preserving of Oregon begins using penta to manufacture Douglas fir utility poles. Production begins immediately.

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“This is a great example of government and business working together for the benefit of the taxpayers, employees, customers and community,” Mueller said.

The most widely used preservative for the manufacture of wood utility poles has been approved for use in Sheridan, Ore., Pacific Wood Preserving of Oregon, Inc. (“PWPO”) announced today.

Pentachlorophenol (“Penta”) is being reintroduced as a wood preservative at the plant as part of its agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. and Oregon Departments of Justice. The preservative previously used at the plant, copper naphthenate, is no longer being manufactured at this time, and a substitute was needed.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the announcement," said Roland Mueller, General Manager of Production for the Pacific Wood Preserving Companies. “This will mean job security for our existing employees and likely the addition of new jobs going forward.” PWPO employs approximately 50 full-time employees and anticipates hiring an additional 10-20 employees over the next year or two. “PWPO will begin treating with Penta immediately,” Mueller added.

Jennifer Byrne, EPA Region 10 Site Attorney, wrote the agency’s response to public comments, and said in part “PWPO has been a very cooperative partner in EPA’s implementation of the Superfund remedy at this Site. Since 2002, PWPO has consistently performed its obligations under the original agreement, including inspection and maintenance of asphalt covers and operation and maintenance of the groundwater extraction system.” Byrnes further stated, “EPA notes at the outset that over 120 comments from the community expressed support for allowing PWPO to use PCP at the Taylor Site.” She said that there was only one commenter who opposed the use of Penta, and this comment was from a Portland, OR law firm who represented an anonymous client. EPA concluded that the use of Penta at the Site “will benefit both the State of Oregon and EPA through PWPO’s performance of operation and maintenance activities that would otherwise have to be paid for by the governments.” For a complete copy of EPA's response to comments, you can go to http://www.epa.gov and search for the Taylor, Sheridan Superfund Site.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (“ODEQ”) said in its response to pubic comments that it received “several letters and 102 signatures on several petitions supporting the proposed PPA Amendment.” In addition, it received three comments in opposition to the proposed amendment. Two were from local individuals and one was from a law firm representing an anonymous client. “DEQ did not receive any comments from members of the community that identified the prohibition on use of penta as important to the community. By contrast, DEQ received numerous comments, including over 100 signatures on petitions that supported PWPO and use of penta at the facility.”

Mueller noted that he was especially appreciative of the dedication and diligence of several PWPO employees, without whom the project would not have been possible. He specifically mentioned Paul Hartman, acting plant manager, Allen Bowman, corporate equipment engineer, Mychal Kintz, chemical engineer, Sheldon Stewart, maintenance supervisor, Jeff Aldridge, millwright and last but not least, Staci Deaver, office manager.

Likewise, Tom Lindley and Polly Hampton of the law firm Perkins Coie LLP, in Portland, OR along with Terrence Belunes of Belunes Consulting were instrumental in working with PWPO and regulators to obtain the modifications to agreements. “They have been working with us since March of last year, and we very much appreciate their support and guidance,” Mueller noted.

Penta is an EPA-registered pesticide commonly used in the manufacture of wood transmission and distribution poles. Now that the site’s remediation is complete, the reintroduction of Penta made sense to regulators and most of the community, based upon public comments.

PWPO purchased the site out of bankruptcy court from the old Taylor Lumber and Treating bankruptcy estate. Prior to buying the site, PWPO entered into agreements with EPA and Oregon DEQ to protect PWPO from liability associated with contamination caused by the previous owner, Taylor. Over time, changed site conditions warranted modified operation and maintenance responsibilities and made the use of Penta more feasible. PWPO agreed to assume these additional duties (including maintaining the low permeability Matcon Cap, pumping and treating groundwater, performing periodic and annual inspections, and assuming various reporting requirements) which help to protect the environment while saving money that would otherwise have been the responsibility of taxpayers.

“This is a great example of government and business working together for the benefit of the taxpayers, employees, customers and community,” Mueller said. As a result of the amended agreements, PWPO will be able to maintain, and hopefully grow, employment, which helps boost local economic activity.

PWPO treats primarily Douglas fir poles at its Sheridan, OR plant, servicing national and international markets. Customers are large investor-owned utilities, contractors for these utilities, municipalities and rural electric districts. It is also a manufacturer of treated lumber and timbers sold in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Penta recently underwent EPA’s periodic “data re-registration” process, which required updated toxicity, health and safety research. Penta is an EPA-registered pesticide. For more information on Penta, visit http://www.kmgchemicals.com, the manufacturer of the preservative.

PWPO is a member of The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies (“PWP”). PWP owns treating plants in Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona, as well as a manufacturing facility in Texas. For more information, visit http://www.pacificwood.com.

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