This afternoon, divers made their first entry into Wallowa Lake to visually and tactilely examine the herbicide barrels in Wallowa Lake . (Photo: Ellen Morris Bishop) Using a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), on Thursday and Friday morning, EPA and their contractor, Global Diving/Salvage had identified 18 drums so far at the location just north of the Wallowa Lake State Park Marina where Blue Mountain Divers first noted the problem herbicide barrels.
The identified barrels include both intact and rusted out barrels. One drum has the “2,4-& or 2,4,5-T” label and appears to be intact. There’s no evidence of any leaking drums at this time. Divers will be working tomorrow in depths of 90-120 feet, doing detailed assessments of the drums. Their top priority is doing visual and tactile assessment on drums that appear to be intact
Responders will continue the assessment, and if conditions allow, could begin removing the highest priority drums as early as tomorrow.
EPA also notes that The labels on the herbicide drums EPA, DEQ, and Blue Mountain Divers have seen in Wallowa Lake say “2,4-D or 2,4,5-T"— indicating the drums might contain one or the other herbicide, not both, and NOT “Agent Orange", which is produced by combing both herbicides at high concentrations.
Both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T were commonly used herbicides in the 1960s and 70's. During the Vietnam war era the two herbicides were combined for the military at very high concentrations to make “Agent Orange,” which was not manufactured for commercial use. The labels on the drums in Wallowa Lake appear to be commercial labels, not military labels.
Again, the labels the agencies have seen to-date say “2,4-D or 2,4,5-T.” There is currently no evidence of drums of “Agent Orange.”