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Forest Service invites comment on clean-up project


According to a press release issued by the Mt. Hood National Forest, the results of a site investigation performed between 2008 and 2013 indicate that soil beneath trestles on the Oak Grove Water Conveyance Pipeline are contaminated with lead and other metals.

The 6.4 mile-long pipeline sends water diverted from Lake Harriet to the Oak Grove Hydroelectric Powerhouse to generate electricity.

The powerhouse is about 22-miles southeast of Estacada.

In three locations, at Canyon, Cripple and Pint Creeks, trestles support the pipeline across bodies of water.

Risk from the lead present in the soil beneath the trestles was associated with two of the trestle locations at Canyon and Pint Creeks.

Jonathan Heyl, on-site coordinator for the planned removal, said that while arsenic, chromium and other metals also were found beneath the trestles, only lead tested above levels of concern for excavation workers and only at the Canyon and Pint Creek locations.

Heyl explained that excavation workers were the population determined to have the highest risk of exposure at these sites, as it would be difficult for anyone else to develop an illness through exposure to the soil “unless someone licked copious amounts of the soil” or “rolled around in it day after day.”

“People would have to go to uncharacteristically extreme lengths to develop a sickness,” he said in regard to risk to the public.

Warning signs are not in place near the trestles, though Heyl said there are discussions of having warning signs near all three trestle locations.

Results of the site investigation indicated that the contamination was limited to surface or near-surface soils under the trestles. The metals were not detected in sediment or water samples from Canyon and Pint Creeks.

The press release states that the soil was contaminated with metals during sand blasting and repainting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Heyl explained that rules in regard to environmental precautions for such work were more lax at the time.

According to Heyl, the contamination was found when PGE took soil samples prior to repainting the trestles in 2008.

Forest Service officials are planning a clean-up project for the Canyon and Pint sites as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, a process that evaluates site conditions, hazards to humans and the environment and determines what clean-up or clean-up alternative is required.

“This clean-up project will allow us to reduce the threat of hazardous substances being released into Canyon and Pint Creeks,” Mike Chaveas, district ranger of the Clackamas River Ranger District, was quoted in the press release.

Documents related to the proposed clean-up for the Oak Grove Water Conveyance Trestles such as the work plan, project schedule and Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis are available at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mthood/landmanagement/?cid=STELPRD3791926 or at the Clackamas River District Ranger Station at 595 N.W. Industrial Way.

Public comment on the clean-up proposal is invited.