Oregon Delegation Presses Pentagon to Transfer Chemical Depot

Oregon’s congressional delegation is urging DOD to go ahead with an existing proposal to transfer thousands of acres at the former Umatilla Chemical Depot to the site’s local redevelopment authority at no cost, after learning the Army is reconsidering the plan.

“We are writing to express our strong concerns about reports that the U.S. Army may seek to charge the communities around Umatilla to receive property as part of the ongoing Base Realignment Closure (BRAC) process at the Umatilla Army Depot,” Sens. Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley (D) and Rep. Greg Walden (R) said in a letter sent last week to Defense Secretary Charles Hagel.

“If accurate, this would be a terribly disappointing development in a process that has otherwise been a model for transfers under the BRAC process,” the letter said.

The Columbia Development Authority is willing to purchase 640 acres at the depot if the rest of the property is handed over at no cost, reported the Tri-City Herald. The LRA had expected to reach a deal over an economic development conveyance by mid-2015, according to Bill Elfering, the authority’s chairman.

Umatilla and Morrow counties, which are represented on the LRA, have spent more than two decades planning the reuse of the 20,000-acre facility located in northern Oregon. About 7,500 acres would be turned over to the Oregon National Guard for a training facility, with much of the remaining land being used as a wildlife preserve. Only a small part would be dedicated to industrial and agricultural use.

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