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McCormick-Baxter Organoclay Sediment Cap


Organoclay Sediment Cap at Superfund Site

The McCormick and Baxter organoclay sediment cap project area covers approximately 58 acres of terrestrial and aquatic land located on the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The organoclay sediment cap itself will be placed over the site of the former McCormick & Baxter company, which was founded in the early 1940s to produce a variety of treated wood products during World War II. Various wood treatment processes have been used at the facility, and site investigations between 1983 and 1990 revealed many releases of chemical compounds such as pentachlorophenol (PCP), creosote, chromium and arsenic to soil, groundwater, and sediment. In 1990, the wood treatment operations ceased and early remediation actions were initiated to remove process equipment, piping tanks, and treatment formulations. The organoclay sediment cap is part of an ongoing process to remediate the site, which is presently listed as a Superfund site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Over the past several years, a number of inspections, investigations, and remedial actions have been performed at the site. Most notably, in 2003 Remtech Inc. completed work on a subsurface barrier wall surrounding the primary waste areas within the upland portion of the 43-acre property.


In July of 2004, The contractor for the project, Remtech Inc, began work this phase of the McCormick and Baxter project. The project is part of the effort to cleanup the superfund site and the adjacent shore and bed of the Willamette River. Consisting of site cleanup and the installation of articulated concrete block over a layer of ET-1 Activated Clay, this project required one of largest single applications of organophilic clay ever implemented - over 1.2 million pounds of organophilic clay.

Operational Evaluation

Aqua Technologies ET-1 Activated Clay plays a crucial role in this project. Typically this type of organophilic clay is used to treat water from oil-well-drilling operations, but the effectiveness and environmental safety of the product initiated enough confidence to apply it for use in the first real full scale application in an environmental project. Easily one of the most complex and largest environmental cleanups that the state of Oregon has ever implemented, the innovative use of ET-1 Activated Clay will no doubt set new standards within the industry.

Current Operating Status

The area to be capped will be approximately 25 acres in size; capped with about 1 foot of ET-1 Activated Clay in three separate areas covering 21 of the 25 acres. The capped area will be armored by articulated concrete block and 6-inch minus rock. Any existing non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) migration seeps will be covered with organophyllic clay, where the material will adsorb the contaminants tightly enough to be considered environmentally safe. Additionally, the river banks will be upsloped with clean soil fill and topsoil placed to support plantings, reinforced by a turf reinforcement mat between the soil layers.


The project expects to cost approximately $12 million, and the projects' contractor, Remtech Inc., and the project will reach completion in October of 2004.

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