Inspecting a barrel

A member of the Hazmat crew watches as a rusted barrel is lifted from its containment "overpack" for inspection and testing on June 15.

In what EPA site administrator Mike Boykin called "the best possible outcome," test results from sediments, barrels and waters in Wallowa Lake released Tuesday, June 25th showed no contamination by herbicides. "The lake water is clean," said DEQ's Laura Gleim.

About 25 people attended the agencies' public meeting Tuesday June 25th. Asked why the agencies waited until June to investigate the potential problem in the lake when the barrel(s) was reported in September, 2018, EPA public information officer explained that the initial report by Blue Mountain divers noted a single 55 gallon herbicide barrel. However, in late April, 2019, Blue Mountain Divers submitted a new report of a dozen 100-gallon drums containing herbicide. "That sounded like an illegal dump to us, rather than a single barrel that was likely empty and had been used as part of a dock," Dunbar said. "So we wanted to get onto the project as soon as we could.'

Other questions mostly focused on the cost of the operation, which Boykin said would be calculated and published in an administrative memo within the next few months, once all expenses are tabulated. Boykin did not speculate on the anticipated amount.

"This is what we do a lot," he noted. "We respond to a report of a spill or some contamination. We investigate, and clean it up. We are always glad to do the work. And we especially like this kind of outcome."

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