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MISSOULA (AP) – A state environmental official says despite years of pesticide spills at the site of a Missoula company, the surrounding neighborhood appears to be safe.

Risk assessor Aimee Reynolds of the Department of Environmental Quality tested the neighborhood surrounding the White Pine Sash Co., and is scheduled to present her findings at a public meeting on Tuesday.

Her results contradict an assessment by state Superfund officials, who said 60 years of dipping lumber in vats of pesticide contaminated the soil and water, and created a health hazard.

But Reynolds said only one home directly across from the site needs additional testing, as chemical levels there were just over the state’s maximum. Diesel truck traffic, lawn spraying or wood burning could be the reason for low levels of contamination, she said.

White Pine bought the property in the 1920s to produce window sashes and doors cut from ponderosa pines. Soil contamination was discovered in 1989, and groundwater contamination was discovered in 1993. The plant closed in 1996 because of market and supply problems.

Contaminants found at the site include pentachloraphenol and dioxin. Both cause cancer, and dioxin can cause kidney, liver and other problems.

Reynolds’ assessment evaluated cancer risks to people who could be exposed to polluted soil and groundwater, including residents, workers and others.

She said anyone who might come into contact with the ground where White Pine dipped lumber would have an increased risk. So would anyone who built a house on the northwest corner of the site, because of soil contamination, she said. The drinking water aquifer below the site is also polluted, Reynolds said, and the water poses a risk to human health.

The state will take public comment through Aug. 31, and then will investigate cleanup options.

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