MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
1175 E Main Street
Mayor Stromberg called the continued meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
1. Presentation by UPRR and DEQ regarding railroad property clean-up
Mayor Stromberg explained the City was working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Union Pacific Railroad (Union Pacific) to move forward with a full site remediation using rail cars. The City requested a delay of the partial remediation to look at possible alternatives. This presentation was a result of that request. He introduced DEQ Hydrogeologist, and Project Manager Greg Aitken, CH2MHill Hydrogeologist and Portfolio Manager Mark Ochnser, DEQ Western Region Environmental Cleanup Manager Michael Kvcinski and Toxicologist/Risk Assessor Susan Turnblom.
DEQ was regulatory, implemented the rules, and could not compel Union Pacific to do anything because this was a voluntary remediation site. If Union Pacific complied with DEQ’s regulations and attained the necessary permits from the City, they could proceed with either a partial or full site remediation. What prevented Union Pacific from doing a full site remediation was a deed restriction placed on the site by the Planning Commission when it separated from a larger parcel.
Mr. Aitken explained DEQ worked on this issue since 1993 when Southern Pacific Railroad owned the parcel and now with Union Pacific. The property was contaminated and red flagged by DEQ as a site requiring clean up. Contaminates included arsenic, lead and heavy petroleum hydrocarbons. The site was currently fenced and vacant and DEQ believed people were not exposed to these contaminates. Because there was no current threat to human health, DEQ was willing to allow Union Pacific to work with them through their voluntary cleanup program. This gave Union Pacific the discretion on how to proceed. DEQ made a formal Record of Decision (ROD) in 2001 regarding the final cleanup for the rail yard that met state requirements to comply with the Oregon environmental cleanup law.
Union Pacific was considering a proposal for a cleanup that met DEQ standards and would allow residential as long as the property remained a single 20-acre tax lot. DEQ would condition any approval of a cleanup stating if the yard subdivided or specific uses were proposed, they would review them given the property’s condition at that time post cleanup. When the property subdivided, DEQ would re-evaluate the site data, risks, and further cleanup.
Prior to giving Union Pacific approval to implement remediation, DEQ would provide an opportunity for the City and community to review the information and comment. Unless substantive new technical information indicating the 2001 ROD was based on flawed technical findings, they would use that plan.
Mr. Ochsner provided a presentation of remedial options that included:
Option A: Full Remedy
- Option A – Full Site Remedy – Did not go forward due to deed restriction on the property
- Option B – Partial site clean-up – Bunker C vault and surrounding impacted soil (former evaporation ponds)
- Option C – Leave site in its current state
Option B: Partial Remedy
- Excavate and dispose of approximately 35,700 tons of impacted soil by rail
- Approximately 72 days to complete
- 375 outgoing gondolas with soil
- 1,100 incoming trucks with clean backfill over 4-5 weeks
- Option A Full Remedy - Map
- Excavate and dispose of approximately 12,800 tons of impacted soil
- Approximately 24 days to complete
- 420 outgoing trucks with impacted soil
- 420 incoming trucks with clean backfill
- Option B -Remove Bunker C Vault and Surrounding Contaminated Soil - Map
Union Pacific was interested in a full clean up to sell the property and wanted to know what the City was planning regarding the area.
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained the Planning Commission approved a land partition and lot line adjustment that created seven lots in October 1999. As part of that approval a condition was added placing a deed restriction on the remaining lot precluding further development or land divisions until the property was cleaned up to residential standards. The Condition also required written confirmation from DEQ when completed.
City Attorney Dave Lohman further explained how the deed restriction worked in regards to cleanup requirements associated with use. If the property subdivided, each parcel required residential cleanup standards regardless of the use. DEQ would impose another restriction following the initial cleanup that once someone proposed a development on any subdivided parcel it had to meet DEQ requirements for that type of use. The City zoned the property E-1 Employment mixed use with the option for an owner to develop residential to a limited degree. The other deed restriction was imposed legislatively by the Council requiring the entire twenty acres be cleaned up to residential standards and could not be subdivided or developed until residential standards were met. Council could change the limitation on the deed to comply with the deed from DEQ.
Ms. Turnblom explained the cleanup standard for commercial and industrial was exposure 8 hours daily for 25 years. Residential increased exposure to 24 hours a day. The urban residential standard might apply to a mixed-use area and reduced residential exposure.
Mr. Aitken explained DEQ looked at the entire composite of site contaminant concentration data on the site. Union Pacific reviewed the data then determined what the overall site would look like if they cleaned up the two areas with the highest level of contamination. The data went through a calculation and if the outcome fell below the residential cleanup level, they met that standard for the whole twenty acres as long as it remained a single tax lot occupied by a single resident exposed in an average way across the entire property. Subdividing the property required a recalculation. A smaller lot could exceed the residential standard and require further cleanup.
Mr. Ochsner added they remove maximum concentrations and rerun the model until it satisfied a residential screening level. There were no cleanup proposals for the other areas on the site. If there were an equitable servitude on the property, the new property owner would assume the liability. The City’s deed restriction on the land was a bit vague and needed to be cohesive with DEQ cleanup standards.
Ms. Turnblom confirmed a residential, commercial, and industrial lot could be adjacent each other with different cleanup standards for all three. The assumption was residential would not have access to the commercial or industrial property. DEQ would look at each parcel separately and determine screening levels or protection. A park would be site specific and based on exposure. Mr. Lohman clarified the nature of the contaminants were in the soil and could not migrate off the site.
DEQ would look into the urban residential standard for the site and provide information to the City on the possibility of using this standard instead of residential.
Ms. Turnblom addressed the increase in arsenic toxicity since the 2001 ROD and the location of six wells a half mile from the contaminated area. During the beneficial use conducted for the remedial investigation, they did not identify groundwater and would consider that when the plan came back. Union Pacific would bring in a remedial action plan, evaluate, and approve it at current standards with the latest scientific information. Mr. Kvcinski added they would also compare the work plan to the 2001 ROD and address any changes.
Council was interested in a full site cleanup, reviewing and possibly modifying the deed restriction, and clarification regarding land use. Mr. Lohman responded to a Councilor’s request for an environmental lawyer and thought Council would benefit more from a subject matter expert instead.
Staff would work with DEQ and develop options for Council on modifying the deed restriction to make the property sellable, meet DEQ requirements, and ensure adequate protection for citizens, and determine liability risks. They would bring options to Council.
Meeting adjourned at 8:29 p.m.