Red substance in Perrydale area ditches after barn fire can’t be identified

State and federal environmental agencies have been unable to determine what has been flowing through drainage ditches in the Perrydale area since a barn fire May 2.

On May 6, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality warned residents to keep themselves, pets and livestock away from the ditches while the US Department of Environmental Quality conducted tests on the unknown red substance.

Those tests since have shown typical concentrations of pesticides and metals, no organochloride pesticides and low levels of petroleum that are typical of roadside ditches.

The results also showed low or no levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds, DEQ said late Wednesday.

“The cause of the red discoloration remains unknown,” DEQ spokesperson Dylan Darling said.

The EPA still must validate the test results before they are considered final, Darling said.

In the meantime, people should still use caution if they or their pets or livestock are likely to come into contact with discolored water in the area, he said.

Because of the drier weather, there has not been as much water in the ditches recently, Darling said.

Multiple agencies responded to a three-alarm barn fire Thursday night in Amity, including crews from SW Polk Fire District.

The three-alarm fire took place at 7560 Perrydale Loop in the unincorporated community of Perrydale in Polk County. The property has an Amity address.

Discolored water began flowing from the property into drainage ditches toward nearby Ash Swale.

DEQ is still investigating whether any environmental cleanup will be needed at the site of the fire.

Tracy Loew covers the environment at the Statesman Journal. Send comments, questions and tips: [email protected] or 503-399-6779. Follow her on Twitter at @Tracy_Loew

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Red substance in rural Oregon ditches can’t be identified

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