09/19/2001 11:00PM

EPA to mull plan for Portland


Environmental Protection Agency officials in Seattle have agreed to consider Magna Entertainment's plan for dealing with waste water at Portland Meadows, opening the door for the possibility that the track's 2001-2002 season can begin as scheduled on Oct. 20.

Horses were scheduled to move into the barn area at Portland Meadows on Sept. 1, but EPA officials told Magna on Aug. 28 that Magna would be subject to fines and penalties if horses were allowed on the grounds. EPA attorney Dave Alnutt told Magna that the operating company's storm water retention plan was unacceptable in concept, so Magna never submitted its detailed plan to the EPA.

During a teleconference meeting with Magna officials and Oregon horsemen's representatives on Tuesday, however, the EPA offered to examine Magna's storm water retention plan and to reopen discussions that could lead to an agreement.

Magna's storm water retention plan could put up to 227,000 gallons of water into Portland's sewer system in a 24-hour period, which would dispose of all storm water on 95 percent of the days that it rains. The EPA has insisted that the system be designed to handle a "25-year event," or up to 1,750,000 gallons of storm water. Magna, which hopes to operate at Portland Meadows for three to four years while it builds a new track, feels the expense of installing such a system is prohibitive.