By Rob Davis

The Oregonian

Three more barrels were hauled up Monday from the bottom of Wallowa Lake in an ongoing recovery effort that finished Tuesday.

One barrel appeared to be intact but had no label, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said in a news release. The other two were not intact.

In all, contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have removed five barrels from the lake, a popular tourist destination.

State regulators said in a news release that all the barrels had holes and were filled with lake water.

The five barrels removed were:

• A rusted-out barrel marked as containing “2,4-D or 2,4,5-T.” A combination of the two defoliants manufactured for the military was known as Agent Orange and sprayed during the Vietnam War.

Officials have sampled the barrel’s contents and the sediment near it but believe it was full of lake water. The barrel removed from the lake bottom did not contain Agent Orange, authorities have said. It was the only barrel found with an herbicide label.

• Two seemingly intact, unlabeled barrels that were found to have holes once inspected above the surface. They are believed to have been full of lake water.

• A rusted-out barrel marked “inspected.”

• A rusted-out barrel marked “Hosp.”

In all, the EPA’s divers found 72 drums, most of which were unlabeled and rusted out. Contrary to early reports from recreational divers who first found the barrels in August, no 100-gallon barrels were discovered. Two 55-gallon barrels were found welded together.

Divers inspected the final drums Tuesday to determine whether they were intact or labeled as having contained something hazardous.

None was removed. Most barrels have been left on the lake bottom.

The state and federal environmental agencies “determined the remaining non-intact drums found at the bottom of Wallowa Lake are likely filled with lake water and do not pose an imminent risk to people or wildlife,” an EPA spokesman said in an email.

Numerous samples of lake sediment and water have been taken. The agencies have not said when they expect test results.

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