Umatilla Depot Closure Means a Loss of 1,000 Jobs

Umatilla Depot Closure Means a Loss of 1,000 Jobs »Play Video
UMATILLA COUNTY -- The Umatilla Chemical Depot has been a major economic engine for Eastern Oregon, and that engine is coming into the station. The final project is 3/4 complete and the facility is set to close in November.

That news is leaving many locals concerned about the future of the county.

“I do see it as a big impact,” said Hermiston local Floann Lund. “I think the economy is going to suffer for it, in many ways, we lose the people, the income, you know the local business it will affect them.”

Fellow local Norm Stewart added, “I hope something else comes in to take up the slack.”

Once the Depot closes 1,000 jobs will be cut. About half of those people live in Oregon while the other half commute from the Tri-Cities. The closure will put 246 Hermiston locals out of a job, and displace another 200 throughout Umatilla County.

Debbie Pedro is leading a group to fight for the Depot's future, but even she knows the future isn't bright.

“The best scenario of what can replace it would be something that brings in big jobs,” said Pedro.

Oregon State is working on an impact study to determine what exactly the loss will do to the area. in the mean time, the East Oregon Economic Alliance is working on bringing in grant money to try and lure more business to replace these jobs.

It will take a long time to create 1,000 new jobs for the region and locals are beginning to see how the depot has become a double-edged sword.

“Chemicals can go away that would be fine, we just need to keep the people and make them do something,” said Stewart.

Once the Depot closes down, local emergency vehicles will also be affected. They'll be losing their massive wireless network known as "The Cloud", unless Umatilla County can raise about $100,000 annually.