Tests of possible mill fire debris find asbestos on Pleasant Hill property

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      PLEASANT HILL, Ore. -- Flames tore through the Swanson Mill on Thursday, July 17, nearly destroying the Springfield wood processing plant.

      The next morning, Pleasant Hill resident Jenny Jonak said she found debris and ash on her 40-acre property that she believes floated downwind from the Swanson Mill fire.

      A contractor working on her land suggested she have it tested.

      "They ran a test and found there was 20 percent chrysotile in it, and that's a type of asbestos. And my understanding is 1 percent or higher of asbestos is considered hazardous," said Jonak.

      She said she's worried by the results, as her family relies on well water and food from their organic garden.

      The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency is analyzing several samples collected across the region.

      Asbestos can be harmful when airborne.

      "If you see fire debris on your property that is white, beige or gray in color, and is felt-like in appearance, please do not disturb the material," said Jo Niehaus, a spokesperson for LRAPA. "As long as the debris is solid and undisturbed, it will reduce risk of possible fibers becoming airborne."

      Officials from the air quality agency are urging people to use caution if they try to dispose of the debris themselves. If you believe you have some asbestos debris on your property you can call LRAPA or the Lane County Public Works Waste Management Division.

      According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some fertilizers could contain trace amounts of asbestos.