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DEQ staff greet and inform the public at two weekend events

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staff and managers participated in two significant and successful public outreach events over the weekend of July 9-10: tabling at an Active Bethel Community event in Eugene and staffing a booth at The Big Float in Portland.

In Eugene, DEQ provided information and answered questions Saturday about soil sampling in the Bethel neighborhood near J.H. Baxter & Co., a now-closed plant that produced treated lumber. Sampling has detected elevated levels of dioxin in some yards near the facility. A cleanup plan is underway, as well as additional sampling to determine the extent of the contamination.

DEQ’s Dylan Whitney, Susan Turnblom and Dylan Darling pausing for a photo at the event.

Many thanks to Susan Turnblom, Dylan Whitney and Dylan Darling who joined the tabling event. Turnblom is cleanup project manager for Baxter; Whitney is a natural resource specialist in cleanup; and Darling is the spokesperson for DEQ’s Western Region.

On Sunday, DEQ offered materials on various efforts to improve water quality, while thousands of people brought their floaties and launched into the Willamette River at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. DEQ’s theme was “Dive in!” to learn more about subjects such as harmful algal blooms, toxics reduction efforts and other ongoing water quality work.

More than 150 children stopped at the booth to create colorful aquatic wildlife fridge magnets, while their parents asked questions about the safety of the river for swimming or downloaded “GreenState,” DEQ’s monthly podcast.

Many thanks to Andrea Matske, Lower Willamette Basin Coordinator; Lauren Wirtis, Northwest Region communications; and Valerie Arkell, Stormwater Specialist, for detailed planning of the booth and materials; to Michele Thompson, web designer, for her colorful poster design; and to Valerie, Heidi Nelson, emergency response; Jennifer Flynt and Harry Esteve, headquarters communicationsns; Blair Paulik, NWR cleanup; Dan Brown, Lab water quality; and Ryan Johnson, stormwater, for staffing the booth.

-Harry Esteve, communications manager

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