Uncle Sam, who usually has his index finger sternly pointed at “you”, must now point it in the opposite direction as the Federal Government takes responsibility for potentially exposing thousands to asbestos. It is a known fact that asbestos was commonly used in the military. Because of its resistance to fire and heat as well as its economical cost factor, asbestos found its way into the barracks, ship yards, ammunition bases, arsenals, mechanic’s garages, aviation hangars and much more. What is NOT common knowledge is the fact that some of it was left behind. 22 Acres of land, now owned by the Sunriver Owners Association, was once home to the U.S. Army’s Camp Abbott and the many military men and women who trained there. As an active U.S. Army Corps of Engineers training camp, not only was there housing or barracks on the property, but also a demolition area, grenade courts, a gas chamber, landfill and two rifle ranges. The site also had an anti-aircraft range, field target range and a submachine gun range.
Beginning in about 1944, the United States demolished most of the camp’s buildings. When the U.S. left the property, they also left asbestos containing floor tiles, siding, insulation, and other construction debris. The Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) is a not-for-profit corporation that provides quasi-governmental services to its nearly 4,000 members and maintains Sunriver’s 65 miles of roads, 33 miles of pathways, two (2) aquatic facilities, three (3) parks, twenty-six (26) tennis courts and 1,000 acres of common area. Sunriver began building the residential project in 1968, but did not discover the asbestos containing materials until 2002. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prepared a detailed report of the Environmental Cleanup Site Information that includes how the site was formerly used, areas of concern and contamination information as well as other facts of interest.
The U.S. government has now agreed to pay $500,000.00 to help recover the costs of asbestos removal. This contribution considerably reduces the once estimated 3.2 million dollar price tag of the clean-up. Additionally, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality agreed to put a “CAP” on the contaminated soil by building the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center. The center itself actually acts as a cap on the contaminated soil. The construction plans include at least two feet of clean soil that completely cover the affected area as well as a three to four inch thick concrete or asphalt base of sufficient dimension as to prevent the escape of any asbestos dust or particles.
4,000 Sunriver residents can literally breathe a little easier. They will be enjoying a new clubhouse complete with pool and rec center instead of the old dumping ground for asbestos waste.