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The Northwest Pipe and Casing Company (NWP&C) site operated as a pipe coating facility in Clackamas, Oregon for approximately 30 years. Pipe coatings used were coal tar or pitch, coal tar epoxy, cement mortar and asphalt. The site was listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on October 14, 1992.

Based on information reviewed, the Northwest Pipe and Casing Company site is a public health hazard because of exposure to polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs), dibenzofuran, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil at levels that could cause adverse health effects. Minor skin problems, mild immune depression, minor stomach pains, and vomiting could occur in persons exposed to the highest levels of these contaminants. In addition, exposure to the highest levels of PAHs and PCBs in soil at the site could result in a low increased risk of developing excess cancer over a lifetime.

Former workers and trespassers on site, could also have been exposed to benzene, bis/di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, di-n-octylphthalate, methoxychlor, tetrachloroethene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethene, and heavy metals in soil. Based on available data and possible exposures, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur because of exposure to low levels of these contaminants.

Since the shallow aquifer near the site is contaminated with PAHs, we recommended that a private well survey be conducted. EPA intends to pursue this recommendation.

Coal tar emissions, buried wastes, contaminated soil, sediments, runoff water, and shallow groundwater are potential pathways for human exposure to contaminants. Local biota including vegetable produce are also potential pathways for exposure to environmental contamination. These pathways are unlikely to result in exposures at levels of health significance, particularly if proper remedial measures are taken.

As part of the site investigation, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted an informal, one-on-one public availability meeting. Although no site-related health effects were reported, residents wondered whether children attending Clackamas Elementary School and persons attending the annual rodeo event at Camp Withycombe could have site-related health affects. Children attending this school and persons attending the rodeo event are unlikely to experience health effects due to site contaminants.

ATSDR has made recommendations to reduce, prevent exposure to contaminants, and better characterize the site. ATSDR will contact appropriate state or federal agencies to request that recommendations in this public health assessment be implemented. If additional data and information become available, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated follow-up.


In this public health assessment, ATSDR evaluates the public health significance of the Northwest Pipe and Casing Company National Priorities List (NPL) site in Clackamas, Oregon. More specifically, ATSDR reviewed available environmental and health outcome data, and community health concerns to determine whether adverse health effects are possible. In addition, this public health assessment recommends actions to reduce or prevent possible adverse health effects.

A. Site Description and History

The Northwest Pipe and Casing Company (NWP&C) site is an abandoned pipe coating facility. The site is located in an industrial park at 9200 SE Lawnfield Rd, Clackamas, Oregon. It lies between Lawnfield and Mathers roads. The property is bordered on the west by the Southern Pacific Railroad, on the east by an industrial park, on the north by a large grassy field, and on the south by the Withycombe Air National Guard facility (Figures 1 and 2).

The 51-acre site operated as a pipe coating facility for approximately 30 years. From 1956 through 1978, the site was known as the Hall Process Company prior to selling the pipe coating facilities to NWP&C. However, pipe coating operations continued until 1985 when NWP&C abandoned the site.

Pipe coatings used were coal tar or pitch, coal tar epoxy, cement mortar and asphalt (1,2). In general, the pipe was cleaned by shot blast, primed with bitumastic jet primer and then sprayed with a coating (2). Pipe sprayed with coal tar was wrapped with asbestos (1). The majority of pipe was coated with coal tar (2). Coal tar contains polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), many of which are carcinogenic as well as volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, and xylenes. During early operations, coal tar spray fumes were vented through a stack to the atmosphere. Aromatic hydrocarbons and phenolic compounds were released to the air during this process (2). Later, in 1973, a smoke condenser water scrubber was added to the process. There were several coal tar melting pots which emitted strong odors and particulates (1). Both companies were known to have bag houses as part of their air pollution control equipment. ASTDR does not have information on the operating efficiency of the bag houses or the final disposal location for these wastes.

Past employees report that approximately 200 drums of chemical waste are buried on site and that paint, paint thinner, and jet set primer (containing zinc chromate and trichloroethane) were dumped on site or discharged directly to the storm sewer (1). The drums were reported to contain cresol, creosote, coal tar, coal tar pitch, phenol, pyridine, xylene, and zinc chromate. No buried drums had been removed as of June 1992.

A Preliminary Assessment was conducted in July 1987 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) contractor (1). It showed widespread contamination of surficial soil by PAHs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These contaminant groups were also found in sediment, surface water and groundwater as shown by the Screening Site Inspection in December 1988 (2) and a Listing Site Inspection, completed in June 1990 (4). An investigation of 53 test pits by Geotechnical Resources in early 1988 showed coal tar material in fill several feet below ground surface and an 1/8 inch film and free product (creosote odor) on the groundwater table (3).

The Northwest Pipe and Casing Company site was finalized for the National Priorities List (NPL) on October 14, 1992. The NPL site consists of Parcel A (21 acres) and Parcel B (32 acres) [Figure 3]. A distinction is made due to differing land uses. Pipe coating operations are believed to have been restricted to Parcel B while pipe manufacturing and storage occurred on Parcel A (2). Reportedly, a past employee of NWP&C transported drums of oily waste and spent solvents from the portion of Parcel A, which is now owned by Northwest Development Company, for disposal on Parcel B (4). This indicates that chemical storage may have occurred on Parcel A. Parcel B is partially fenced while Parcel A is unfenced. There are gaps in the fence on Parcel B along Mathers Road which permit access to the site. In addition, the eastern property boundary is unfenced but has limited access because the adjoining industrial park is fenced. Clackamas County has a deed giving them a 60-foot wide right-of-way for a proposed extension of a highway, Industrial Way, through parcels A (the portion owned by Oregon Department of Transportation [OR DOT]) and B. A truck driving school, International Institute of Transportation Resources, Inc. (IITR), operated on Parcel B from April 1988 through January 1990. Historical aspects of the site are summarized in the table below.

1956 - 1978 Pipe coating under Hall Process Company.
1978 - 1985 NWP&C operates pipe manufacturing and pipe coating facilities.
12/85 NWP&C abandons the site.
1985 or 1986 NWP&C sold parcel A to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Northwest Development Company.
9/86 -12/87 Parcel B rented to a hay export company.
9/86 U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (OR DEQ) visit site.
9/29/87 Finalization of the Preliminary Assessment by OR DEQ.
4/88 - 1/90 A truck driving school operates on Parcel B.
Early 1988 Investigation (53 test pits) by Geotechnical Resources.
4-12/88 Screening Site Inspection performed by EPA Region X Field Investigation Team.
4/3/89 Weston samples a composite soil sample from Parcel A.
6/90 Listing Site Inspection finalized.
6/9/92 ATSDR site visit accompanied by EPA, OR DEQ, and Oregon Department of Human Resources, Oregon Health Division.
10/14/92 Finalized for the National Priorities List (NPL).


B. Site Visit

An initial meeting prior to the site visit included two representatives from EPA, one representative from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (OR DEQ), one representative from Oregon Department of Human Resources, Oregon Health Division, and two ATSDR representatives: Greg Thomas and Laura Barr. Oregon Department of Transportation officials joined us during the site visit on June 9, 1992 because they own part of parcel A.

The public availability meeting, held on June 10, 1992 was attended by a representative from OR DEQ, two residents, and two politicians. The residents were concerned primarily about health problems in former workers. The politicians wanted to be informed about the site in case they received questions from the community.

On June 10, we reviewed EPA and OR DEQ files, including a search for records of violations during the operation of the plant. Files at the Oregon Division of Health were reviewed and health information was gathered on June 11.

Observations made during the site visit are reported here. The OR DOT is on parcel A as well as numerous companies brought in by Northwest Development Company. Parcel A is unfenced and well landscaped. Most of the ground surface at the Northwest Development Company is paved with asphalt. No surface contamination was observed on parcel A. Surface contamination (assumed to be primarily coal tars) was evident on parcel B: hardened tar-like substances and blocks of this material lay on the surface. Drainage ditches on the east and west sides of the site carry drainage (and probably contaminants from surface run-off) to the northwest toward Deer Creek. A partial fence around parcel B limits but does not eliminate trespassing: there are large gaps in the fence along Mathers Road. In addition, the eastern property boundary is unfenced but has limited access because the adjoining industrial park to the east is fenced. Several abandoned buildings (quonsets) and pipes indicating underground storage tanks (UST) were seen on parcel B. The OR DEQ representative indicated that the UST's probably still contained gasoline or diesel oil. Tarry and charred surface debris from a fire which destroyed a building was observed. The site is fairly well vegetated with grasses and bushes.

Since ATSDR's site visit, repairs have been made to the fence and the quonset huts have been demolished. EPA is determining what additional cleanup work is necessary at this site (5).

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use


The site is located in a mixed commercial and residential district. The population consists of approximately 5200 people living within a mile of the site and more than 20,000 people living within four miles (4,2). The closest town is Clackamas to the west and south of the site. The city of Milwaukie lies several miles to the northwest. The nearest residence is a quarter mile southwest of the site near Camp Withycombe. A small residential community is located to the south beyond Camp Withycombe. The nearest private well is three quarters of a mile southwest of the site.

Land Use

The Oregon Department of Transportation and an industrial park, Clackamas Commerce Center, are located on Parcel A (SE Industrial Way) of the site. The Southern Pacific Railroad borders NWP&C on the west. Clackamas Elementary School lies approximately 2000 feet southwest of the site. Camp Withycombe is at the southern boundary of the site. An annual rodeo is held at the camp.

The Clackamas County Development Agency plans to construct an extension of Industrial Way through the NWP&C Site to provide access to the 82nd Avenue/Interstate-205 intersection (6).

Natural Resource Use

Mount Talbert and other mountainous terrain are within one-half mile east of NWP&C. Although the Clackamas River lies approximately a mile south of the site, local creeks flow northwesterly. However, surface water from the site eventually flows into the Clackamas River, which is used as a drinking water supply and for fishing. Surface water may be used for irrigation within a 3-mile radius of the site (2). There is a seasonally high groundwater table at the site (within 2' of the surface during the wet season) and the site is in a valley which floods.

The area surrounding the NWP&C site has both public water and private wells. The city of Milwaukie's wells are located approximately 5 miles to the northwest. During the summer of 1988, TCE was discovered in the well field and several of the wells were closed due to contamination from undefined sources (7). There are approximately 150 well logs registered with Oregon Department of Water Resources within 3 miles of the site (2). Although there may be private well users, no water wells drawing from the shallow aquifer have been located in the vicinity of NWP&C (2). The Clackamas County Water District is a protected surface water source on the Clackamas River (4). The subsurface consists of alluvial sediments (sands, silts, gravels, clay lenses) underlain by discontinuous lava flows, sandstones and conglomerates (2). There are water bearing units separated by clay lenses within the alluvial sediments.

D. Health Outcome Data

The Health Division of the Oregon State Department of Human Resources provided vital health statistics information. However, the state of Oregon does not operate cancer or birth defects registries.


On June 10, 1992, ATSDR staff held a public availability meeting to gather community concerns. The availability meeting was announced through an ATSDR Press Release on May 27, 1992. During the public availability session, politicians expressed concern over public attendance at their annual rodeo event at Camp Withycombe. Camp Withycombe is adjacent to the site on the south. We gave the politicians the appropriate numbers for contacts within ATSDR should any health concerns arise. No concerns were reported following the rodeo event. Although no site-related health concerns were reported by the community at the public availability session, residents were concerned about health problems in former workers. In addition, an OR DEQ representative indicated to ATSDR after our visit that parents were concerned about sending their children to Clackamas Elementary School because of the proximity to NWP&C.

Residents and officials who attended the meeting raised the following health-related concerns:

  1. Will the health of children attending Clackamas Elementary School be affected by the site?

  2. Will the health of persons attending the annual rodeo event at Camp Withycombe be affected by the site?

The Public Health Assessment for the Northwest Pipe and Casing Company site was available for review at the Clackamas County Public Library. During the public comment period, from November 16 through December 16, 1994, no comments were received from the public on this assessment. However, comments were received from the Oregon Department of Human Resources and were used to revise the assessment.

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