The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second season of cleanup at the North Ridge Estates Superfund Site in Klamath Falls, Oregon, began Monday. The site is a residential subdivision that contains asbestos as a result of the improper demolition of 82 asbestos-containing military barracks that were once used to treat World War II Marines suffering from tropical diseases.
The three-year project will remove 2 to 4 feet of soil contaminated with the carcinogen. Asbestos, once used in many construction materials for its heat resistance and flexibility, is now known to cause mesothelioma, a deadly cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. Most patients die within a year of a mesothelioma diagnosis. The EPA declared North Ridge Estate a Superfund site in 2011 after seasonal remediation efforts were not able to provide proper long-term remediation.
Some residents affected by the process have been moved to temporary housing while the area surrounding their homes is scoured of asbestos and new septic systems are installed.
“Mostly it’s because we have to remove their septic system or driveway in order to remove asbestos contaminated soil, so it will be relatively short-term relocations,” Judy Smith, community involvement coordinator for the EPA, told the Herald and News.
During the winter months, the EPA took advantage of the snow to remove trees. When the trees fell on snow, it reduced the amount of asbestos-tainted dust in the air versus being removed in the warmer months.
The Herald and News reports last year eight properties were completely cleaned, and the EPA plans to clean 17 additional properties this season.