The City of Milwaukie – “What were they thinking?”

This is a field about one mile from where I live. There is an apartment complex across the street to the north. I often see people who I guess live in the apartments walking their dogs or letting them run on this property. The City of Milwaukie has planted some flowers and ground cover and placed two benches on the NE corner of the property.

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I have often wondered about the area fenced off with warning signs on it so I did some Google research and found the information about the environmental hazard on the state’s DEQ website.

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It really makes me want to know why the city invested any money to beautify this property if right next to it is an enviromental hazard. What were they thinking? My tax dollars at work!

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From the Oregon DEQ website:

Site History:
Contamination Information: Environmental investigations conducted since 1989 have revealed the presence of PAH contamination in on-site soils to depths greater than 40 feet bgs, in off-site soils beneath the adjacent SPTCo railroad right-of-way, and on the Milwaukie Marketplace. The investigations have also revealed the presence of elevated PAHs in on-site groundwater.
Manner and Time of Release: Past practices and vandalism at pole-treating facility caused releases of creosote. The facility operated from the 1920s to 1953. Ten thousand gallons were released in 1951 when young vandals opened valves on the creosote vats.
Hazardous Substances/Waste Types: The contaminants of concern are constituents of creosote: polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dibenzofurans.
Pathways: On-site and off-site soils are contaminated; on-site groundwater contaminated; off-site groundwater threatened. PAHs detected in on-site and off-site soils and in on-site groundwater may threaten the Milwaukie drinking water supply. (Two city supply wells are located adjacent to the site.) Current land use within 0.5 mile of the site is primarily residential and commercial. The site is located near a wetlands area.
Environmental/Health Threats: Soil and groundwater contamination confirmed. Milwaukie drinking water supply wells located adjacent to site; wetlands adjacent to site; site is located in residential area adjacent to shopping center. Potential threats to humans by contact with site soils and ingestion of drinking water.


5 Responses

  1. I’m with you doesn’t sound like they should have encouraged people to this plot of land (unless for some reason it has been cleaned up and no longer a hazard).

  2. I just moved here and noticed how awful the water tastes. It tastes like fertilizer or something. Like the way it smells when you walk into a plant shop. Do you think the PAHs detected is the cause of this? I have never tasted tap water that is so strong like this. I no linger drink it because it taste like a chemical. What about bathing? Am I absorbing this through my skin? These are the thoughts that run through my head.

  3. The area inside the fence needs to be capped. The area outside the fence (i.e., adjacent to where the small pocket park is) has been cleaned to residential levels.

    I’m not sure if the City put in those benches and landscaping or if that was the neighborhood association.

    Information on City of Milwaukie drinking water quality is available at:

    Click to access waterreport08.pdf

    There are monitoring wells that are checked regularly to make sure that any groundwater contamination from this site is not impacting City wells.

  4. I am the Chair of the Hector Campbell Neighborhood Association. Our neighborhood stops at 37th where Ardenwald Neighborhood begins and the currently fenced area is located. I have recently been researching this area labeled environmental hazard. The phone number on the sign is disconnected. I have found a lot of information but am pursuing more through the city and DEQ.

    The benches and plants were placed there by a couple of people in our neighborhood, not the city or a particular group. They decided it was a natural place for walkers to rest, if needed.

    We have a lot of interest in the residential area, the Wetlands area and a lot of concerns about the effects this site may have on soil and water quality. The major spill in the fenced area was creosote in the 1950’s. The site was reported to DEQ in 1988 and some work was done, some pending.

    If you would like to know more about what I find out in the next month or so, send me an email. If you have additional information you think would be helpful, please let me know. Thanks.

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