The City of The Dalles, leading a coalition that includes Wasco County and the Port of The Dalles, is seeking a $600,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help public and private property owners evaluate environmental hazards on their property.
Suspected contamination can make a property difficult to sell because neither property owners nor potential buyers know the extent of the problem—or if it even exists—and can’t predict the cost of cleanup, said Matthew Klebes, assistant to the city manager.
The Coalition Assessment Grant will be used to assess “brownfields sites,” properties where the “expansion, development or reuse of the property may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant,” according to an EPA bulletin.
The grant will also evaluate alleys.
“Questions regarding cleanup costs can cause a buyer to low-ball prices,” said Klebes.
He said once the scope of work needed is known, that information can be used for additional grants to mitigate the problem and actually clean it up.
The assessment will identify the extent of lead, asbestos and petroleum contamination on participating properties.
“The property owner has to agree to the study,” noted Klebes.
The city is leading the grant request process, and a consultant is helping with the application pro bono. The grant deadline is in early December.
An initial study of brownsfield sites in the city completed this year and a subsurface mapping survey to detect underground tanks in alleyways will be used to leverage the EPA grant application.
The alley mapping survey was conducted over 13 alleys located between First and Third streets and Lincoln and Madison streets. Magnetic surveys, ground-penetrating radar surveys and hand-held magnetic and electromagnetic scanners were used to conduct the survey in January of this year. One underground storage tank was located, and five backfilled pits with debris suggesting a storage tank had been removed were found. Nine additional backfilled pits were identified but had no debris, suggesting they were former tank locations.
The brownsfield site inventory reviewed over 400 properties, scoring them on a scale of 1 to 10, with properties rated 10 having the highest potential as what the report identified as “brownfield opportunity sites.”
Properties initially identified as “high priority and highly likely brownfield opportunity sites” included the former Carson Bulk Oil plant at 212 Terminal way; the former Bowden Heating Oil site at 208 Laughlin St.; the former The Dalles Soda Works at 800 E. 2nd St.; the former The Dalles Chronicle site at 318 Federal St., which once housed an auto repair facility; and 403-407 E. Second St., once used for auto repair and home to a Sherwin Williams paint store.
The report notes that “this inventory has demonstrated that the focus areas within The Dalles are impacted by brownsfields...the city is a good candidate for an EPA brownfield grant.”