JELD-WEN to Pay $700,000 to EPA to Resolve EPA Claim at Lumber Site

April 19th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

JELD-WEN Inc., located in Klamath Falls, Ore., will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $700,000 for costs incurred by the EPA during a contaminated site cleanup conducted at the Circle DE Lumber site in Klamath Falls. The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon approved the settlement agreement between JELD-WEN Inc. and the United States, according to court documents.

In addition to the money recovered under the agreement, EPA has also recovered nearly $208,000 in an administrative settlement with the current owner of the site, Daniel Brown, according to a EPA press release.

The Circle DE Lumber site is a three-acre former lumber mill and wood treating facility. Operations at the site included treating milled lumber in a 1,000-gallon dip tank that contained a solution of diesel oil and pentachlorophenol (PCP). Use of the dip tank resulted in the release of high concentrations of PCP, dioxin, and petroleum hydrocarbons to soils around the dip tank.

In 2005, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality requested EPA assistance to clean up the site due to its immediate hazard to the environment. Between October 2005 and February 2006, EPA cleaned up the property by removing the old dip tank and excavating and properly disposing of more than 500 tons of soil contaminated with PCP, dioxin, and petroleum hydrocarbons, according to the EPA release.

After completing the cleanup action, EPA sought cost recovery from the current owner of the site, Daniel Brown, and from JELD-WEN, owner/operator of the Circle DE Lumber site between 1971 and 1973. The EPA statement says “the EPA quickly settled with Mr. Brown, however, EPA was unable to negotiate a settlement with JELD-WEN.” In April 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against JELD-WEN seeking full recovery of the government’s costs, said the release.

JELD-WEN director of Communications Teri Cline told DWM magazine that JELD-WEN was one of a handful of businesses that operated on the Circle DE site over the past 75 years, and owned the property for less than 24 months during the early 1970s (1971-1973).

“While it was never determined that JELD-WEN caused any contamination at the site, the fact is that JELD-WEN is the only company among the property’s past owners that is still in business today, and the land needed to be cleaned up,” says Cline. “Because we take environmental leadership seriously, and because we had no desire to spend money on litigation, we entered into a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency and are happy to see the land restored.”

While dip treatment is still common today across the door and window industry (but with different chemicals than those used in the 1960 and 70s), JELD-WEN Inc. has eliminated dip treatment as a wood preservation process throughout its U.S. operations, says Cline.

“We pioneered AuraLast wood, which is a proprietary vacuum-pressure process designed to distribute the active ingredients, delivered in a water base instead of a solvent base, to the core of the wood for virtually 100 percent surface-to-core protection against wood rot, termites, and water saturation,” she says. “We’re very proud of our ability today to deliver durable wood windows and doors without the operational hazards associated with traditional solvent-based dip treatment.

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