PRAIRIE CITY - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality conducted a site-assessment Oct. 8, on the Blue Mountain Rancher's property, located at 209 Fourth St. West in Prairie City, to determine if a release of petroleum products has occurred. The site is a former gasoline service station and bulk plant.

DEQ staff used a powered probe to collect soil and groundwater samples from six locations at the site. Four substandard underground storage tanks are located on the property and have not been decommissioned as required by state and federal law, DEQ reported. The three 20,000-gallon and one 12,000-gallon underground storage tanks were installed in 1976 and reportedly stored diesel fuel and gasoline. The site has been vacant since the late 1980s.

Two buildings located on the property are currently being used for storage. The DEQ reported the property remains idle and continues to deteriorate, and the property is considered a brownfields site.

Brownfields are abandoned, idled or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.

The property is one of eight petroleum-contaminated sites in Oregon scheduled to have a site assessments performed as part of the Oregon Rural and Economically Distressed Site Assessment Initiative.

In June 2003, DEQ re-ceived $400,000 for the Initiative, $200,000 of which is dedicated to performing site assessments at low-risk petroleum sites.

The initiative is funded by the Brownfields Revitalization Act, signed into law by President Bush in January 2002. The act authorizes up to $250 million in funds annually for brownfields grants, including up to $50 million for the assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites.

Katie Robertson, director of the project for the DEQ, reported on Oct. 30 that findings from the assessment showed very minor detections of diesel fuel and heavy oil in soil samples taken.

"We discovered there had been no contamination of groundwater in the area," she said. "We found groundwater at only one location at the site and did not find any contamination in the sample we took. The site looks real good and based on the figures we've obtained so far, there is no need for a cleanup."

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