The approval gives Floragon the go-ahead to open the 83-acre site, comprised of about a dozen tax lot, to development.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has determined that low-level contamination in the 83-acre northern portion of the 105-acre Floragon lumber mill site in Molalla does not present an environmental risk.
Senior Project Manager Dan Hafley, a DEQ hydrogeologist, said DEQ issued a no further action determination for the northern portion of the site (situated north of Bear Creek) after test results indicated that pollution levels are present at acceptable levels to protect human and ecological health.
Hafley said testing has been going on for a number of years, with the latest tests done in late 2013 and early 2014.
For the purposes of site investigation and clean-up under DEQs clean-up program, the site has been subdivided into the northern parcels, comprising the majority of the site, and the southern parcels, which include Bear Creek and the area south of the creek.
Portions of the northern parcel are vacant, but some areas are being used for log storage and log chipping operations
The DEQ approval opens up possibilities for business growth in Molalla. Now that pollution levels are considered safe in the northern portion, Hafley said Floragon has the go-ahead for the tax lots there to be used.
Hafley said the sale of at least one of the northern site parcels has gone through, and Tillamook Fiber is already operating on another site.
Weve been comfortable with that because we are not concerned about contaminates on the upland part of the site, he said. So perhaps more sales will now occur there. Floragon was waiting for the DEQ approval letter, and now they have it.
From about 1947 to 2002, lumber mills occupied the site, first Avison Lumber and then Floragon, with the mill and log storage area on the northern parcels.
Several years ago, environmental investigation identified chemicals in soil and groundwater related to the historical site use. But groundwater impacts are localized and do not extend off-site.
He said north of the creek, sampling and risk analysis has identified little contamination in the soil. Soil testing, however, did discover elevated levels of some contaminants in the storm water system and ditches. Storm system and ditch sediment cleanouts were completed in late 2013 and early 2014 under DEQ oversight. The work was approved by the DEQ.
Work on the Floragon southern parcels, however, continues under the oversight of the DEQ NWR cleanup section.
Environmental contamination related to mill operations, in particular wood treating at former dip tanks, has been found in the southern portion of site, which includes a stretch of Bear Creek and approximately 22 acres south of the creek. Environmental cleanup there will continue under DEQ supervision.
Hafley said the DEQ is analyzing data compared to screening values and to determine if there is still a human health or ecological risk for the southern section. He expects a report to be coming out in a few months.
We have already determined that contamination does not extend beyond Floragon property, he said. We have already tested Bear Creek sediment offsite and determined it does not pose a risk.