PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon couple took it all in stride as they watched the demolition of a house they owned for nearly 30 years.
Brent Merriman told the East Oregonian newspaper that he and Michele Lowary moved out of the house and rented a place across the street last year after a worker accidentally dumped 150 gallons of diesel into their basement.
On Friday, Merriman and Lowary watched as workers in two excavators smashed their home in Pendleton and dropped chunks of it into a semitrailer.
Merriman said the materials filled two trailer loads on Thursday, the first day of the demolition.
A Pendleton Grain Growers employee made the mistake Nov. 24. A spokeswoman for the agricultural co-operative said after the incident that the driver was confused about where to deliver the fuel. The house used heating oil some years ago, and the driver pumped the diesel into the basement.
She said the company would work with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and contractors to clean up the mess, and Pendleton Grain Growers would take steps to make sure such a mistake is not repeated.
The co-op’s insurance is covering the cost of demolishing the home and building a new, larger one in the same spot. Rebuilding, however, won’t start until the site is tested for contamination.
This was the second diesel spill at a Pendleton-area home in less than a year. A semi crashed March 1, 2014, on Highway 37, about a mile-and-half north of the city. Its trailer broke off, landed in a gully and spilled 5,000 gallons of diesel near a 109-year-old farm home.
That led to the removal of 20,000 cubic feet of earth, and the demolition of the old house.