By: Tracy Loew & Alisha Roemeling
Michael Chapin and Nichole Rose were enjoying a walk at Minto-Brown Island Park Thursday afternoon when Rose's black lab, Odin, led them to a shocking scene.
In and around a pond near an oak savannah, about a quarter-mile north of the dog park, were several 30-gallon Dow Chemical herbicide drums.
"There were just barrels of stuff lying all over the place," Chapin said. "It disgusted me."
Chapin, 31, has been a protester with the Occupy movement and says he is especially concerned about the environment.
On Friday, he called the city of Salem's parks department, which confirmed the scene and arranged for an immediate cleanup.
But the event wasn't that unusual, parks superintendent Keith Keever said.
Keever comfirmed that five barrels were found in the area, all of which appeared empty and ancient. The barrels had likely had been floating around the park for a decade or more.
"Minto was farmed for 30 or 40 years. Likely either when there was a homestead or with farming, those barrels got dumped there," he said. "They've been there all along."
It's not unusual to find farm implements and other relics of the 1,200-acre park's past, especially after flooding, Keever said.
Environmental Services for the city of Salem responded to the scene and took the barrels with them to be tested for chemicals. According to Keever, the barrels most likely contained a weed killer similar to Roundup.
"They've been determined empty barrels, they're bone dry" Keever said. "We don't expect there will be anything in them, but we need to wait and see what Environmental Services says."