A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Alkali Lake OR’

Alkali Lake and Wagontire, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on January 17, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.

Landing number 2240; A Landing A Day blog post number 668.

Dan:  As is obvious from the title of this post, I landed in . . . OR.  This is the fourth state in a row that has been a repeater since I changed my lat/long landing procedure 24 landings ago.  More casual readers:  please skip on down to my regional landing map.  To members of the more serious ALAD nation, read on. . .

For my last 24 landings, I’ve landed in OR twice, SD twice, MN twice, OK twice, MO twice, IA twice and TX a whopping five times!  Here’s my list of larger states with zero landings:  AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, PA, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI.

Interesting side bar:  I haven’t landed in OH since landing 1809 (and landing 1806 just before that).  That’s over 400 landings without landing in OH!  And I haven’t landed in AL since landing 1749, nearly 500 landings ago! 

The LG (Landing God) works in mysterious ways.  But more to the point right now, I’m ready for a bunch of landings in the above long list of states (which will make my Score go down as inevitably it must . . .)

So here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my very local landing map:

landing 2a

This might not be the first time, but it’s extremely rare that my local landing map shows no towns.  I’ll zoom back a little, and show you not only towns (including Wagontire), but two previous landings nearby:

landing 2b

These other landings certainly influenced my decision not to feature Silver Lake or Summer Lake (the only two actual towns), since they have been well covered by previous posts.

Anyway, it’s time for my space flight in to S-Cen Oregon.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and then hit your back button.

Here’s a static view showing my three local landings:

ge 1

Regular readers may wonder what has happened to my watershed analysis.  Well, my usual streams-only StreetAtlas map tells me nothing.  But here’s the real story, courtesy of GE:

ge alkali lake

So this is an obvious “internal” watershed, with runoff from my site going no further than Alkali Lake.  By the way, this is my third Alkali Lake internal landing, with one Alkali Lake in Nevada and one in Nebraska.

 Here’s some of what Wiki has to say about this Alkali Lake:

Alkali Lake reached a prehistoric maximum depth of 270 feet and covered about 1450 square miles. Since then, its water level has varied, with an overall drying trend, and is currently dry much of the year.

While it’s interesting that the lake used to be huge, lakes all over the intermontaine West were huge at the end of the the last glacial advance, say 8,000 years ago. So why feature Alkali Lake?  Well, there’s an interesting environmental site at the lake.

The following is loosely taken from Wiki & OregonLive.com:

As the Vietnam War raged, a Portland herbicide manufacturer stored 25,000 barrels of highly toxic and in many cases carcinogenic waste along the southwest shore of Alkali Lake from 1969 to 1971, including components of the Agent Orange herbicide widely used in the war.

These drums were stored with a permit from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which shut down the operation in 1971 due to poor management practices at the site.

[With permission from the State of Oregon?  “Store” 25,000 drums of hazardous waste?????  What the heck??  And what were they going to do with the drums after “storing” them?  I don’t care how well managed the site was, it was an inevitable environmental disaster.  You can blur over the following, but here are some of what the drums contained:]

The drums contained pesticides and pesticide by-products including 2,4-D and MCPA herbicide residue containing chlorophenols, polymeric chlorophenoxyphenols and dioxins/furans (including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin).

[The 2,3,7,8 dioxin is one of the most toxic compounds known to man.]

The State of Oregon took over the site in 1974, after losing legal actions against the chemical company to force their compliance with new hazardous waste laws.

In 1976, at a cost of $84,000, the state used bulldozers to push, crush and compact the leaking barrels into a dozen shallow, unlined, 400′ long trenches, then covered them with soil.

It doesn’t get an uglier than this.  I’ll wager that this is the worst $84,000 ever spent in the history of environmental cleanups.  Take a horrific situation and make it immeasurably worse . . .

You gotta check out this YouTube video posted by CraigLaw.  (It’s a choppy video with no production value, but stay with it):

So, here’s some more info from the same sources:

The dumpsite is 10.3 acres and contains an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million gallons of toxic waste at the site, and is called one of Oregon’s worst toxic-waste dumps by the project manager at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The DEQ performed a human health and environmental risk assessment of the site and determined that although there is a 40-acre area of contaminated groundwater, there is no discernible risk associated with the site, as long the site remains fenced and covered.

At the present time, there are no plans to clean up the site.

As one might imagine, more than one environmental group believes that the site should be cleaned up.  I read that one cleanup estimate is about $50 million; I’m in the business, and would at least double that . . .

I searched Google Earth, and here’s what I believe is the “site” (it’s the right size, about 10 acres, so this must be it):

ge waste site 1

Here’s a much closer view:

ge waste site 2

Enough depressing environmental stuff.  It’s time to move to Wagontire.  I love the Wiki entry:

Wagontire is an unincorporated community in Harney County, Oregon, United States, on U.S. Route 395. The population has varied recently between zero and two people.

From 1986 to at least 1997, Wagontire was home to two people: William and Olgie Warner.  Planes flying into Wagontire Airport would taxi across U.S. Route 395, fill up at the gas station and cafe.

Really?  There’s an airport?  Of course, I checked out GE.  And low and behold, there is an air strip of sorts right across Route 395 from a commercial establishment:

ge wagontire

The ALAD Truth Patrol verifies at least the likelihood that the Wiki entry is accurate.

Time for some GE Pano shots.  Speaking of Route 395, here’s a shot of it by John Ciccarelli near Alkali Lake:

pano john ciccarelli

And I’ll close with this shot of the “lake” by John Hains:

pano john hains

That’ll do it . . .




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