Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Former Mahaffey Oil - Parma

The former Mahaffey Oil site is a 0.888-acre parcel in Parma that was originally developed in 1930 as the Continental Oil Company Depot. Historical maps from 1931 show tanks, an oil warehouse, and a platform. Various petroleum distribution companies were located at the site from 1930 until 2001, and Mahaffey Oil operated at the site from approximately 1975 to 2001.

In 2003, City of Parma employees discovered petroleum products during a waterline repair. DEQ was notified of the release and efforts to contact Mahaffey were unsuccessful. Unable to obtain site access, DEQ installed monitoring wells at the property boundary and downgradient of the site. Petroleum contamination was found at the property boundary in soils and ground water but not in the downgradient, offsite wells.

Canyon County acquired the property through a tax deed due to unpaid property taxes on June 29, 2009, and requested a DEQ Brownfields Program assessment in October 2010. The following assessment activities were completed at the site:

  • In April 2011, the Brownfields Program commissioned a Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) completed by a DEQ contractor. 
  • In July 2011, the Brownfields Program commissioned a Phase II ESA using a DEQ contractor. Based on the results, DEQ determined an additional assessment was needed to adequately characterize the extent of the soil and ground water contamination. 
  • In August 2012, the additional Phase II ESA was completed and indicated remediation was needed at the site.
  • In November 2012, an Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) was completed for the site.

Idaho Brownfields Program funding totaled $40,172.00 for the Phase I, Phase II, and ABCA.

  • Phase I: $3,307.00
  • Phase II and ABCA: $36,865.00

In March 2013, Canyon County applied and was accepted into the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) and also applied for and received a revolving loan fund subgrant for $200,000 to fund remediation at the property. The VCP work plan called for the removal of approximately 2,700 cubic yards of petroleum contaminated soils (PCS). PCS removal began in October 2013 and concluded in November 2013. Compliance ground water monitoring began in February 2014. Quarterly ground water monitoring occurred until 2015 when it had been demonstrated that ground water petroleum concentrations at the property boundary were reliably and consistently below the cleanup goals stated in the work plan.

A risk assessment was conducted at the site to determine site risk of residual soil petroleum contamination since not all PCS could be removed due to a high water table (4-6 feet below ground surface). The risk assessment indicated that the residual petroleum contamination made the site suitable for nonresidential uses but not residential uses. To address this issue, an environmental covenant was developed for the site restricting future uses of the property to commercial and industrial uses only. The environmental covenant was executed with the county in August 2016. DEQ issued a certificate of completion and a covenant not to sue, which was attached to the deed along with the environmental covenant and allowed the county to put the property up for auction to get it back into private ownership and back on the tax rolls.

During the VCP process, adjacent property owner and onion packing and distributor J.C. Watson Packing leased the property from the county. The company, established in 1912, ships red, yellow, and white onions throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan 365 days a year and requires space for staging long-haul trucks to transport the onions out of Parma. After the company leased the property, it removed the remaining infrastructure, which included the concrete bunks the tanks laid on, concrete enclosure of the aboveground storage tanks, loading rack, piping runs to the loading rack, and office building. Removing this infrastructure allowed for an additional 0.888 acres of space for trucks to stage while waiting to be loaded with onions for shipping.

The county put the property up for auction in October 2016. J.C. Watson Packing was the only bidder and the company received the title to the property on November 9, 2016. The property is currently assessed at $61,330 and property taxes are now being paid to the county. The county also recovered the back taxes, penalties, and interest from the sale.

Given the assessed value, this property was “upside down” in property value relative to assessment and remediation costs. The partnership between the Idaho Brownfields Program and the county to get this property back into private ownership was critical to getting this property assessed and remediated. This development provides a critical space that J.C. Watson Packing needed for their logistical operations in shipping onions around the country and the world.

Staff Contacts

Brownfields Program Coordinator
Eric Traynor
DEQ State Office
Waste Management and Remediation Division
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0565

Related Pages

Brownfields Success Stories

Voluntary Cleanup Program

Brownfields Assessment Program

Brownfields Grants

Environmental Covenant

Preliminary Assessment Program for Mined Lands and Industrial Facilities