Six years ago, Eron King, an artist and young mother, moved from the edge of Eugene to a creekside plot of forest valley so her two boys could grow up raising hens and Toggenburg goats. She wasn’t naïve about rural life in Oregon, where she’d lived for nine years. The state’s western third is timber country, and the tractor-trailer rigs hauling logs were no shock to her.
But like many residents of the region, King was unaware that major timber companies — Weyerhaeuser, Roseburg Resources, Stimson Lumber, Seneca Jones, and others — have been spraying millions of pounds of herbicide on their private forestland. Some of it, she believes, is carried by the winds and lands on her property.
Last year, King and her two children, along with their father and 37 other residents, submitted their urine for laboratory testing. The results were startling: Every person tested positive for the compound 2,4-D — made famous as an ingredient of Agent Orange — and for the chemical atrazine.