J.H. Baxter goes extra mile to be good neighbor.
Should environmental regulations be bent and manipulated because homeowners wear respirators and masks? Wearing a respirator may be a dramatic photo op, but it diverts people from several important facts about the J.H. Baxter plant in Bethel (Register-Guard, Oct. 14 and 15):
J.H. Baxter is in full compliance with air emission standards and air pollution standards.
The company has voluntarily been working with the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority to reduce emissions and fumes below the legal maximums.
The company has invested heavily in scrubbers, vacuum pumps and other equipment that reduce air emissions. A third vacuum pump will be installed in 45 days that will cut out virtually all of the steam discharges (which contain fumes).
The company has hired a consultant who is one of the country's foremost authorities on odor abatement to determine what additional steps can be taken to eliminate creosote odors. A company engineer at the plant site works on these issues every day.
There is no scientific evidence that creosote odor constitutes a health risk. On the contrary, studies show that the nose picks up the odor of creosote when there are very few particles in the air. At these low levels it does not pose a health risk. Levels inside plant premises have been measured at 40 times lower than Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.
The state Department of Environmental Quality is testing the abandoned railroad yard for chemical fumes, a site 1.5 miles from the Baxter plant and close to the Trainsong neighborhood, whose residents are upset about the fumes.
Ten years ago, this plant was the first in the country to introduce ACQ, the safe substitute for arsenic-based preservatives. It received the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Chemistry Award. As a result, "green" environment-friendly builders and architects regularly recommend Baxter's ACQ-treated products.
David McCreary is president of the Western Council of Industrial Workers Local 3091 and an employee of J.H. Baxter in Eugene.