The past few months have been disturbing and traumatizing, for our nation, our community, and our own emotive and communal selves. However, the work towards cleaner air does continue, albeit at an incremental pace totally out of sync with the rapidity of the massive and necessary changes happening within our communities.
Here are a few updates:NW Metals: As of September 4, 2020, DMV has suspended the dealer certificate previously held by NW Metals. Apparently there is another dealer certificate located at the same property, 7600 NE Killingsworth St., #201 that is still in effect. It amazes me what people do to perpetuate their powers to pollute, powers that others do not have or would not use, but powers that are a real loophole within the corrupted permitting process for the State of Oregon. NW Metals is also in the process moving their facility to 9537 N. Columbia Blvd, out by the bird sanctuary and wetlands of Bybee Lake. While this is great for Cully, I fear that NW Metals will just shift their toxin releases into those important wetlands and the adjacent Columbia Slough. NW Metals is still under a prohibition order regarding their metal shredder, so they should not be doing any activity at their Cully site that creates noise or smoke. Please report them to DEQ if you notice them breaking the law.
Owens-Brockway Glass Plant: This major Cully polluter, on the NW corner of the intersection of 205 and Killingsworth, still continues to stonewall the community’s efforts to protect the health of the local airstream and ecosystem. After firing over 100 workers last year, they supposedly moved their chromium releasing green glass processing to their Kalama, WA. facility where they may have filtering and capture technology. They still are manipulating their self-reporting to misrepresent the pollutant release data provided to DEQ, adding cullet to obtain a less dense opacity stream for self-reporting of toxin release. CAAT and other local organizations are pressuring DEQ to follow through on this flagrant abuse of the self-reporting process. Ultimately, we want Owens-Brockway to install the best technical filtering technology available to protect local residents and wildlife from toxin release. Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) promises to increase the safety factors for these heavy polluters still remain unfulfilled. I have noticed SO2 smells lately (matchsticks), usually on Sunday mornings, and while Owens-Brockway has stated they do not release SO2 anymore, a lung irritant and greenhouse gas, it is hard to believe that anything they say is actually true. CAAT will continue to pressure DEQ to insist that Owens-Brockway install and use the best technology available to filter out lead, metals, HAPS, and other toxins from their emission stream.Lastly, the Cully Association of Neighbors will have their first 2020-2021 meeting via Zoom Tuesday night, September 8 from 7-9pm. Commisioner JoAnn Hardesty will be giving us an update on “The Future of Policing and Public Safety in Portland”. Join us if you like, at this meeting link:
The term ‘Vile Soup’ came to me as I was skimming through the tables at the end of the 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary, released this last February 2020. I figured DEQ would interpret the numbers as stand-alone measurements that were all below a dangerous threshold. With DEQ announcements of the last few weeks, that does seem to be the case. As an environmental activist, and a breather, living near the Owens-Brockway facility and other industrial polluters, however, my own concerns were not assuaged by these numbers. And beyond the numbers, what is that prevalent tang in the air? The constant presence of soot and recurrent solvent odors are easy to notice. Are my senses lying to me? Or, maybe it is just another unusual airflow pattern from PDX or the diesel trucks along Columbia Highway and I-205?
In the DEQ report, there are quite a few compounds that read at a maximum level with a higher concentration at the Cully monitoring site (Helensview Alternative High School) than they do from other sites. When volatile chemical compounds meet, they often interact with each other, creating new compounds that might create more, different, negative health effects for the human body than the original toxin. The large amount of measurable compounds in the Cully airshed creates a ‘vile soup’ of different compounds. We breathe this soup. Every day. But the additives are not just arrowroot put into a broth to thicken it, or olive oil to give it a luxurious swirl. Instead, the amount of different chemicals at levels higher than other sites create a vile recipe that we all smell, taste, and inhale.
When chemicals combine and modify each other, the health effects of this mixture of volatile chemical compounds is called ‘synergistic effects’. The state has done no research on synergistic effects even though they know it is detrimental to health and is happening in our community.
In term of metals (which may or may not be synergists even as they are of individual concern): the reading for lead shows a higher rate than at the NATT’s trend sites (NATT sites are the national trend/average monitors set in specific locations around the city and the nation for baseline comparison.) The problem with lead is that any amount is dangerous, especially to children living near the polluting facilities or attending the three schools within a mile of Owens-Brockway. Lead also bioaccumulates. Once it enters our body, lead will embed its molecules into our blood, bones and teeth, and tissue organs, and that creates real problems like cancers and neurological disabilities.
Chromium-6, a very dangerous carcinogenic metal, shows a maximum reading of .0842 (higher than any other monitor), and yet has a high 96%ND (which is confusing because %ND rates need to be below 80% for the reading to be valid.) The arsenic levels are also very high, and may be the result of Owens-Brockway adding raw materials, like sand, into the glass-cuttle mixture to achieve uniformity. We already have high rates of arsenic in our local environment, so adding more to our airstream and yards increases the likelihood of damage to the body.
While this information is a bit frightening, CAAT means to illustrate the types of dangerous compounds that are routinely sampled in the local airshed. There are so many pollutants around us, some are natural and have always been here, although they may have been hidden underground or in rocks. The industrial pursuit for efficient production and increased profit has mined these metals and brought them closer to us. Metals, mined and then introduced into industrial processes, do not go away, not through incineration nor chemical degradation. They can settle on the ground and sink into watersheds, and they also can be taken up in plant leaves, fruits, and vegetables and bio-accumulate, fixing themselves in our bodies.
As industrial production grew, thousands of under-regulated and poorly understood synthetic chemicals were developed and entered into the mix. Among them are VOC’s, which will disperse with the airstream and most will eventually breakdown. These are the ‘chemical’ scents we catch while hanging out in our backyards tending the garden or enjoying the open-space yards Cully is so well know for. Many VOC’s are extremely toxic in large airborne toxic events and some are recognized as cancer causing carcinogens. Some also are bio-accumulative. While longterm human exposure from many VOC’s has not been researched enough, CAAT surmises that in the least VOC’s are respiratory irritants, causing headaches, nosebleeds, and dizziness, and probably have effects on our emotional health and immune systems as well.
PAH’s last a lot longer in the environment than VOC’s and are often associated with diesel, and tobacco smoke. As PubChem states:
”Our environment is contaminated with a diverse array of chemicals; one of which is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). While some PAHs are potent by nature, others undergo interactions such as additivity, synergism, antagonism or potentiation to manifest their toxicity.” https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/9154#section=Interactions
These metals are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. In the DEQ Monitoring Summary, they register at higher levels in Cully compared to other testing sites:
There is a lot of data in these tables, and the DEQ did well to set up these monitors. What we, as residents, decide to do with the information and data is up to us. DEQ will continue to monitor, and to permit polluters, as is required under the law, but only the local politicians can make the changes necessary to protect you from industrial polluters and the vile ‘soup’ that they create.
Call them up and tell them about your concerns:
Governor Kate Brown: 503-378-4582;
Speaker Tina Kotek Capitol Phone: 503-986-1200, District Phone: 503-286-0558:
Senator Michael Dembrow Capitol Phone: 503-986-1723;
Representative Barbara Smith Warner Capitol Phone: 503-986-1445;
NW Metals/MetroMetals: In November 2019, DEQ issued a Temporary Restraining Order against NW Metals. This was in response to the catastrophic fire on March 12, 2018 that caused severe damage to nearby homes, properties, and pets. The TRO requires them to do a number of things to make their operations safer, including stopping the shredding of all tires and reimbursing the State for costs associated with DEQ investigations. Since the passage of SB 792 last spring, DMV is also in the picture and has levied a fine of $3750 against NW Metals and is seeking to suspend their permit to operate for the next three years. NW Metals is appealing these rulings and will continue to operate during the appeal process. CAAT will continue to pressure DEQ and DMV to aggressively investigate and shut NW Metals down.
Owens-Brockway: After shuttering one of their furnaces and laying off over 100 workers, Owens is still refusing to install any filtering devices on their pollution stacks. The DEQ has renewed their Title V permit but is subjecting the polluter to greater scrutiny. CAAT is working with Portland Clean Air, Earthjustice, Verde and Oregon Environmental Council- OEC to petition the EPA to revisit the Title V permitting process in the hopes of forcing the State to address the health concerns of the community.
HydroExtrusion Portland (formerly SAPA): Since they purchased a site off of Cornfoot Road by the Columbia Slough with prior pollution, state law mandates that Hydro has to assume liability for any prior pollution, including cleanup costs. DEQ wants to initiate a Consent Judgement Settlement with HydroPortland for a fine of $487,050. The settlement means that the Columbia Slough pollution mitigation is moving forward and cleanup is occurring. CAAT is supportive of this and will continue to monitor HydroExtrusion for pollution releases.
After the catastrophic fire on March 12, 2018, NW Metals came into greater scrutiny as an ongoing danger to the community. The fire was due to the company’s negligence, flouting common sense regulations, and caused extensive damage to nearby homes, animals, and the community. The semi-legal chop shop is located next to the giant Comcast building on Killingsworth, just east of NE 75th Ave.
After pressure from CAAT and other local organizations, state legislators passed SB 792 this past June 2019, to regulate auto dismantlers and ‘chop shops’ such as NW Metals. Under the previous regulatory structure, NW Metals was pretty much left alone, beneath the sleepy eyes of the DMV. As far as I understand it, SB 792 requires DMV to now include DEQ in watching over these facilities. CAAT advocated strongly for increased liability reserves to be mandated for the company to pay for future clean-up costs, but the Bill was seriously weakened by state Republicans who don’t seem to care about the people of Portland, our health, or environmental pollution.
Nonetheless, SB 792 is what we have. I have met the DMV inspector twice in the last few months at DMV SB 792 Rulesmaking and Public Hearings. As the only non-industry representative at both of those hearings, I advocated for DMV to take a more active approach in investigating, penalizing and eventually shutting down NW Metals, as well as forcing polluters to set-up a contingent liability fund to pay for health problems and environmental damage to the community, and eventual clean-up of their facilities, now which is the sole burden of the community and taxpayers. In conversation with the DMV Lead Investigator, he seemed to be looking forward to taking on the investigatory challenges with NW Metals. I hope to have more information from him about any of his findings soon, perhaps by early January 2020. The industry reps at the meeting wanted to ease restrictions and financial obligations imposed by SB 792, but all agreed with me that NW Metals was a ‘bad actor’ that needed some kind of penalty, although they themselves only ran legit businesses that loved nature and their community.
DEQ has also taken a more aggressive stance to NW Metals, perhaps due to SB 792, or in the least from pressure from CAAT and other local groups. DMV issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against NW Metals this last week. This is an important development to increase pressure on NW Metals, and DEQ is steeping up.
The civil complaint filed by DEQ in District Court asks the court to require NW Metals to correct onsite violations, including:
• Immediately cease shredding waste tires
• Store all tires in accordance with standards within 10 days
• Cease operations of prohibited underground injection systems within 10 days
• Submit an air quality permit application for all shredders within 10 days
• Implement the work plan and submit documentation to DEQ demonstrating completion within 20 days
• Submit a plan to DEQ for approval demonstrating how storm water runoff will be contained within 10 days and implement that plan within 30 days of approval
• Reimburse DEQ for its “remedial action costs” incurred to respond the disaster at the NW Metals site
What you can do: Anytime you see an elected official, or DEQ, or DMV official, ask and then tell them: “What are you doing to shut down the illegal chop-shop NW Metals? They are continually and flagrantly breaking the law and I don’t want to pay for the clean-up of their facility once they declare bankruptcy.”
Keep the pressure on. Tell every elected official to shut down NW Metals.
In these comments to DEQ, CAAT repeats their verbal request from the November 18, 2019 Public Hearing on this subject for DEQ to revisit and revise the list of 26 Toxic Air Contaminants that are proposed to remain as Level 5 toxins, and thus not subject to a greater scrutiny as Level 3 toxins.
Diesel Particulate Matter needs to be treated as a toxin more subject to regulatory oversight by DEQ/OHA and mitigation by the polluter. Awhile back, our state of Oregon forgot to impose regulations on obsolete diesel engines, and the state became a dumping ground for those highly polluting diesel engines. A discrepancy was created that defined Oregon from the other West Coast states as one accepting of obsolete and polluting equipment. Polluters took advantage of this discrepancy and moved engines banned in other states here. This is a type of ‘toxin dumping’ that unscrupulous polluters often engage in. The effect of this is for the air and the people of Oregon to become subjected to dangerously high exposure levels of Diesel Particulate Matter. The result is that Diesel Particulate Matter air pollution imposed greater harm on the people of Oregon than adjacent states and markets. Please access [https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/…/summary-diesel-particulate-matter-…] for more information on the known dangers of Diesel Particulate Matter.
It is quite likely that other polluting industries will follow this pattern of ‘toxin dumping’ with chemicals that are under-regulated here, but regulated in nearby states. In particular, the proposed Level 5 toxins that are already included in California’s Proposition 65 regulatory framework and warning system, need to be revised as Level 3 pollutants to prevent this ‘toxin dumping.’
Below are some of these VOC’s, toxins, and pollutants that are regulated under California’s Proposition 65 but that are included in the proposed Oregon CAO Level 5 categorization:
Diethelylene glycol monoethyl ether
4,4’-Methylenedianiliene (and its dichloride)
Propylene glycol dinitrate
Silica, crystalline (respirable)
Even if these toxins exist, or are created, at very low emissions inventory levels, given the history of Oregon as a dumping ground for obsolete and polluting diesel engines, it is likely that polluters will move production of these toxins to our State, engaging in ‘toxin dumping’ and the subsequent contamination and negative health effects, so as to escape regulatory mandates existing in other states, including California. CAO does not provide for an insurance penalty for paying for injury, mitigation, or spill clean-up so that burden would fall onto the people of Oregon.
With CAO, Oregon should seek to create a more stringent, comprehensive, and protective regulatory apparatus than exists in California (and certainly one that is not less so.) Given past Agency inadequacies, a rapidly growing population who expect a healthy and safe community, and the natural beauty and the need for continued sustainability of Oregon’s ecological systems and environment, CAO should regulate all contaminants currently regulated under California’s Proposition 65, and any existing Washington-state statutes, at a minimum.
In closing, the Risk Analysis behind CAO is predicated on insuring our states commitment to protecting the health of the state and air we breathe, and that insurance creates a liability that should not be the burden of the taxpaying public, but on the polluter instead. If CAO does not include a comprehensive regulatory strategy for, and built-in, actionable, sanctions of polluters, including a regulatory structure at least equal to neighboring states, then it becomes a toothless agent, a paper tiger, that has little overall impact or meaning, even though it purports to be a protective force.
With the changing dynamics of our State and the climate, it is imperative that DEQ take an aggressive leadership role in regulating polluters. No longer should the State allow her people, no matter how marginalized they may be, to become the recipient of known toxins from dangerous industries and their ‘toxin dumping.’ DEQ, OHA, and the other State Agencies need be our shield against dangerous toxins, including the chemicals and compounds listed above, from polluters who refuse to take responsibility for the damage they create.
Severe human health effects should comprise individual as well as additive effects.
‘Severe’ should be an indication that is a causative for any negative health effects
Since these toxins, many of which are synthetic and do not exist in the natural environment, affect the human system in negative ways, causing potentially permanent injury, they should all be considered severe. The bee sting analogy (OHA) does not really work for me. No one willingly seeks to be stung, even if bee venom is a non-synthetic irritant for which the majority of the population is only going to receive a minor irritation. The sting is still severe in its delivery, and of course one can literally be stung to death. Yellow jackets? Killer Bees? What about yellowish airstreams and killer polluters? Are both acute instances and chronic exposure ‘severe’? I think so. And who knows what the emissions are, at what levels and how concentrated, and any potential densities of exposure? Polluters are, after all, allowed to self-report emission inventories and releases. Are they always being honest? Ever hear of Sapa defrauding NASA for the last 20 years?
Human sensitivity is not the same as acute physical injury. Severe should be construed as a causative for any negative health effects. In the same way, hydrogen fluoride may be a different hazard than selenium, and have a different TRV, but chronic exposure to selenium will have a severe effect on human system including vision loss, paralysis, cardiovascular, hepatic and renal effects.
The State must protect the health of the community. At least, that is what I say to myself each November when I pay my property taxes. And, when someone moves into a community, they may not even be aware that different emissions from polluting industries will have a severe effect on their health and the health of the wider community, or have the base knowledge that something is wrong with that smokestack across the street. The headaches and coughing, the kids nightmares and bloody noses, may not be severe in some peoples views, but over time….
So, Option 1, the choice that offers widest protection statute for the health and well-being of the local community, and the adjacent communities is the only choice.
And, industry should not be allowed to slow this process down. The people of Oregon have already decided they want to live in cleaner and healthier environment.
Overall, the TACHRA document provides a comprehensive and detailed framework for Oregon-based polluting industries to perform a series of tasks that will allow them to continue to pollute and endanger local residents and fauna, and poison flora, waterways, and land.
These areas of concern came up for me as I read though this document:
1: Allowing industries to self-assess with little or no oversight from DEQ, or any other State Agencies, is an open invitation for fraud, and for unscrupulous companies to provide skewed data.
2: Public involvement in both this process and the process of determining RAL’s and Adjusted RAL’s is virtually non-existent (post-SB 1541), and so removes the affected population from joining the debate to protect their own health, lands, and air.
3: Many determinative effects and resultative actions remain undefined or unclear, including what, if any, penalties exist for providing false data, for operating illegal un-permitted sites, and for polluters who repeatedly break the law and violate health standards.
4: Are any businesses or industries or other entities that release dangerous pollutants into the air exempt from RAL’s?
5: Why are so few actions and solutions being implemented to actually reduce health risks to the public?
If self-assessment by polluters remains the only reporting mechanism, Level Three and Four Risk Assessments should be required when community complaints reach a threshold of consistency over time and scope. For example, if DEQ or other State Agencies receive a set number of complaints over a six-month time period for a particular and unique nuisance, the local polluter must do a verifiable Level There or Level Four Risk Assessment within a reasonable period of time. Verification can be conducted by the State or an independent and reputable third-party. Because of the immediacy of complaints from the public, a venue for public input needs to be implemented so both the State and the polluter hear from the community on the effects of the pollution. The resolution of pollution problems must rely on public participation as much as, if not more than, industry self-assessment since the likelihood of under-reporting of toxin release by polluters is well established, historically and locally. In the case of invisible or unnoticeable toxins, local health effects should also be considered as a determinate factor in assessment using local epidemiological reporting by clinics, schools, and others.
Again, the result of self-assessment leaves the pollution, and resultant health burden, on the public and is not a verifiable quantification of pollutant releases. To be equitable, the public must be made aware of, and be included in the process of determining, the dangers of living and raising children near polluting industries and businesses.
Going through the TACHRA document:
In section 2.1, page three, paragraph five, regarding the final sentence: Are cancer burdens assumed, or are they statistical from OHA and other Agencies data, or other sources? If polluters are clustered together, as they are in the Cully neighborhood in Portland, statistical data from OHA, health providers, and schools would be more relevant than assumed cancer rates.
In Section 2.2.1, page five: For polluters within 2 km of a school, Level 3 or Level 4 Screening Risk Assessments should be mandated given the susceptibility of young people to pollution related chronic and other illnesses. In general, ELAF should be prioritized.
In Section 2.2.2, and in general: While Mutlipathway Factors already include agricultural land and bodies of water where fishing takes place, wetlands need to also be considered as they are incubator zones for many species, including endangered species. Given methane outgassing from wetlands, another method should be established for monitoring wetlands habitats, perhaps tissue sampling of indicator species.
Section 2.3: The Risk Assessment Process needs to be more community inclusive with the public more engaged. Perhaps a community complaint designation for the polluter of ‘high complaint level’ (many complaints) or ‘low complaint level’ (few or no complaints) for areas zoned for residential use in the vicinity of the polluter needs to be designed. The public should be informed of this ‘complaint level’ during the Risk Assessment Process.
Section 2.4.1: Under Modeling Protocol, page nine, bullet point one, include ‘sensitive wildlife areas.’
Section 3.1.1: Polluters estimating pollutant emission rates compounds the main problem with the Draft TACHRA regarding the dangers of industry self-assessment, as stated previously. Polluters have made a mockery of self-assessment and fostered corrupt practices at the State level, and this has all been well documented by media outlets, independent scholars, and environmental activists over decades of research and investigation. Allowing polluters to “assess toxic air contamination emission at the capacity to emit” (3.1.1, bullet point 2) just provides one more level of distortion for unscrupulous operators. A better way may exist in examining chemical intake manifests and determining where toxic compounds, and elements, go after being processed by the industry. For example, if a company is receiving 1000 .lbs of methyl chloride a mechanism should be created to account for the use, synthesis, and release of the dangerous chemical emissions or byproducts into the local environment. Needless to say, any hazardous residues must be disposed of properly. This is a more responsive methodology to local health concerns and contamination than relying on the ‘capacity to emit’ method.
In terms of Adjusted Hazard Index RAL’s (page 14), public participation and community inclusion with EQC Advisory is crucial. Developmental effects from pollutants are recognized in the Draft TACRA but need to be prioritized, especially for mutagenic contaminants [e.g Cr(VI)]. There is a critical need for verifiable assessment and containment of mutagenic pollutants. Marginalized and other frontline communities deserve special protection, outreach, and inclusion given neonatal care concerns (access, affordability, education, language, etc.) Any development of higher index numbers should necessitate more robust pollution containment procedures.
Section 3.2, page 16, paragraph two: Why does ‘Fugitive Emissions at Stage One’ not include on-site truck transportation emissions and spillage?
Section 3.3, page 17, paragraph three: Simple modeling for one hour extrapolated to a 24-hour emission footprint is an invitation to provide skewed data and perpetuate fraud. A more reasonable approach would include either Level 3/4 Screening Risk Assessment, or on-site 24-hour modeling for a multi-month long sampling period.
Section 3.4, page 17, paragraph seven: The public needs to be informed of, and invited to, any and all meetings between DEQ and the polluter.
Section 3.5: Title V facilities and industries that use or produce criteria pollutants, or highly toxic PBT’s, should be mandated to perform Level Four Screening Risk Assessments. PBT emitting, or production, facilities and industries should have mandated TBACT to eliminate or minimize toxin releases into the environment. Public notice and inclusion here are crucial.
The State has spent considerable time and resources defining explicit Risk Action Levels. However, communities should not be forced to trade or relinquish their health safety, or the health safety of their animals, lands, agricultural products and consumable garden foods, or the health of local flora and fauna for any increased risk that comes from CAO Risk Action Level permitting. Unless enforcement of environmental quality regulations and clear consequences for pollution violations are codified within the TACHRA, including enforceable sanctions, mandatory retrofits and filtering using TBACT (e.g. thermal oxidizers, scrubbers, containment housing, and electrostatic filters), substantial monetary penalties, or shut-downs, then TACHRA will not be a sufficient protection for the people and environs of Oregon. As mentioned earlier, the States’ and Agencies reliance on unsubstantiated and unverifiable self-assessments from polluters may very well allow for a return to past practices where DEQ functioned more as a bystander, aware that something was going on with some toxic pollution release and contamination, but unable or unwilling to take any action, rather than a functioning regulatory agency charged with protecting the health of the people of Oregon, or the Oregon environment.
from Cully Air Action Telemetry – CAAT (cullycleanair.org)and the Cully Association of Neighbors – CAN (www.cullyneighbors.org)
Dear Chair Helm, Vice Chair Reschke, Vice Chair Schouten and Members of the Committee:
In the Cully community of NE Portland, diesel pollution is a serious nuisance and a dangerous pollutant. The Cully community is a very diverse one, including elderly homeowners and retirees, new families starting out with first homes and their first children, immigrant families fleeing war and terror, Native American and other minority populations, and working homeowners and renters. We have done a great deal, collectively, to make our community into a vibrant and protective place for residents, gardens, and animals. Many Cully residents take great pains to insure their food gardens and yards are pesticide free and organic. The same is true for neighbors who have beehives, chickens, pigs, goats and even a few alpaca. All of these are impacted by PM, soot, and diesel pollutants in ways dangerous to individual, livestock, and property health and safety.
As currently impacted, Cully sits amidst many transportation corridors, including Interstate 205, State Route 30, Columbia Highway, the UP east-west rail-line that BNSF uses, and PDX international Airport. These all combine to create a huge amount of PM, soot, and other diesel pollutants.
Cully, and adjacent local neighborhoods, also include many Title One public schools that are directly affected by PM pollutants, including Prescott St. Elementary, Helensview Alternative High School, NAYA Early College Academy, Sacajawea Head Start, and many other schools for the youth and toddlers in our communities. It is true that our neighborhood is becoming stronger and cleaner, especially now that the State and agencies are recognizing our diversity as a strength, and the fact that our community was formerly designated as a place to sacrifice environmental health and sustainability for industrial growth, but diesel pollution continues to be unaddressed and to create significant risk for all of the community and her members.
Over the last few decades we have all seen the shifting of overland transportation to include a greater amount of long-haul medium and heavy-duty trucks using diesel engines. Unfortunately, it seems our State legislators somehow forgot to insist that transportation and construction companies utilize technological upgrades for their diesel engines and insure a cleaner fuel burn/exhaust pollutant ratio. This was a technological development that Oregonians could have benefited from, especially in these current days of high health-care costs and increasing Special Education services needed in our public schools, but that we somehow missed and failed to implement. As I am sure you all aware, Oregon lags behind the other West Coast American states in providing this diesel pollutant relief to Oregon’s residents. Why that happened is matter of debate, I suppose, and yet here and now is when and where we can actually rectify and correct this dangerous situation and excessive release of PM, soot, and other diesel pollutants.
HB 2007 is a welcome effort to address the dangerous health implications from excessive PM, soot, and other diesel pollutants. The state needs to incorporate standards to insure diesel operators use the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) in their engines, at least at the same level as the West Coast states. This should be immediately mandated for all companies with fleets larger than 50 medium and/or heavy-duty diesel trucks, construction companies, and mandated for smaller (less than 50) operators as quickly as possible.
Further additions to this bill in the form of Amendments should include provisions for the State to enforce a no-idling rule for trains and trucks and allow citizens to monitor and report on illegalities, as well as repealing ORS 825.615.
An Amendment to mandate that all public and private development projects, near a community larger than 10,000 people, limit diesel pollutant release to show periods of time not to exceed two hours unless occupational safety is indicated.should also be included. Given the negative health effects of diesel pollution on human health, including asthma, bronchitis, reduced immune system functions, emphysema, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit (hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD), and cancer, company’s with more than 50 medium and heavy-duty diesel trucks need to maintain environmental liability insurance so that the state does not have to pay for legal issues arising from the negative medical effects of any excessive state-sponsored pollution levels in the future.
CAN, The Cully Association of Neighbors, and CAAT, Cully Air Action Telemetry, urge legislators to strengthen and pass this important Bill, HB 2007, and implement the rulings as soon as possible.
CAN and CAAT are community organizations based in the Cully neighborhood NE Portland, Oregon, and reflect the needs of local residents regarding community issues.
Senate Bill 792 was designed to address the NW Metals fire 2018. CAAT submitted this written testimony:
Written Comments to Oregon Legislative Assembly regarding
Senate Bill 792
March 12, 2019
The NW Metals catastrophic fire one year ago on March 12, 2018 caused physical and psychological harm, and property destruction, and led to a mandatory evacuation of residents in the Cully community. Hazardous wastes, from burning solid-waste stored haphazardly on-site, became airborne and settled over a wide area to the west of the facility, including public schools, community and individual local agricultural gardens, private yards, and public parks. Hazardous waste and fire extinguishing fluids from the site were not contained and most likely entered into the local watershed, already compromised by decades of under-regulated industrial contamination.
The Cully community and the outlying environs have a number of unregulated solid waste storage facilities and auto-dismantlers, also known as ‘chop shops’. No one is sure of the actual number since it seems many of these polluters are not regulated. These unregulated polluters continue to negatively affect the health of the community and diminish property values. These unregulated polluters are also negatively affecting the health of local wildlife populations and continue to complicate the clean-up of existing polluted waterways, including the Columbia Slough watershed, by improperly storing and containing solid wastes and hazardous wastes, spills, catastrophic releases, and illegal dumping.
As the community suffered through the NW Metals catastrophic fire and airborne toxic event, we turned for relief to Oregon DEQ and to our Oregon state legislators. We have asked state Agencies to regulate these facilities and perform investigatory actions, levy fines, and aggressively pursue polluters and shut them down if they refuse to implement protective practices to stop public exposure to hazardous wastes. We have asked legislators to impose conditions on the permitting of polluters to provide a buffer zone between them and community households. As a frontline community with many low-income neighbors, families with children, elderly residents on fixed incomes, first-time homeowners, new immigrant/refugee families, and a vibrant new housing development economy, the community expressed frustration with the existing state apparatus for protecting our health and well-being and expressed an alacrity for implementation of changes that would allow existing laws and regulations to be acted upon. We are, a year plus later, still waiting for state relief from these known dangers, created by under-regulated and unregulated solid-waste storage companies, auto-dismantlers, and chop shops.
The Amendments to SB 792 begin to address some of these concerns but not to address the existing problem. In other words, members of the community are well aware of the problems that exist and still await action from the State Agency’s to insure the health and well-being of local residents and the health of the local wildlife and ground water supplies. Furthermore, as environmental contamination and resultant health maladies become more evident, due to past regulatory and Agency failures, CAAT (Cully Air Action Telemetry) and CAN (Cully Association of Neighbors) encourage the state to revisit this piece of legislation and improve it to create an enforceable SB that serves the people and communities of Oregon, including protecting their health from existing and future toxic contamination, rather than create a ‘paper tiger’ that maintains the same levels of past inadequacy, or worse, that reflects the well-documented influence of industries financial contributions rather than the well-being of the people.
In regards to the particular language designations and constraints of SB 792 (2019) Amendments CAAT (Cully Air Action Telemetry), and CAN (Cully Association of Neighbors), urge legislators to correct the following, and to insert the additional items, described below:
Proposed Amendments to SB 792 requested by Representative KOTEK (v. 3.11.2019)
Section 1 (1) Line 7 Insert
…ORS 822.110, except for ORS 822.110 Section (2) (a) and (b),…
Section 1 (2) Line 13 Insert
…of Transportation, after public notice and consultation with community groups, tribal groups, and other affected parties. Public Notice will be financed in toto by company or individuals requesting site expansion.
Section 1 (d) Page 2, Line 15. Change
(d) Maintains a current bond that meets the requirements under ORS 822.120.
(d) Increase the current bond by amending ORS 822.120 written guarantee to $500,000.00
Section 1 New Item. Insert after (d) Page 2, Line 15.
(d- The existing $500 ‘written guarantee’ is a joke, right? It has to be. It is merely a signal to polluters that it is cheaper to create toxic plumes and illegal solid-waste dumps, pay the fine, and walk away than be a responsible neighbor to local communities. Oregon DEQ has repeatedly stated to the community that they do not have the resources to do their job, so increasing the ‘written guarantee’ within OSR 822.120 becomes a priority, or,
e- Mandatory, verifiable environmental liability insurance needs to be codified within existing regulatory framework, just the same as any Oregon resident is required to have auto liability insurance if they choose to drive an automobile, because industry has proven over and over again that ‘gaming the system’ at taxpayers expense is an acceptable part of a business model in the State of Oregon. Prior incompetence by state Agencies has also allowed polluting industries to create and exploit loopholes, or flat-out ignore environmental responsibilities with little of no consequence.)
Section 4 New Item(s) (9) and (10) page 5 Line 11. Insert
(9) Either enter into a Prospective Purchaser Agreements (PPAs) with DEQ, publicly noticed to adjacent communities for public comment before implementation, or,
(10) Earmark not less than 5% of company’s total gross receipts to an Orphan Sites Account (OSA) Contaminated Site cleanup fund.
(These two items may be combined, but it is crucial that the State allows and directs Agency’s to create a framework for responsible practices for polluting industries, and to allow public participation in the design of PPA’s. The OSA, if it still exists in Oregon’s state framework, should be pre-loaded by polluting industries rather than rely on future taxpayer revenue. IF OSA has sunset, then a new Orphan Fund for solid-waste auto dismantles and storage facility needs to be created.)
Section 7 (h) (4) Page 6, Line 13. Change
Change “may” to “shall”
Please make these changes and alert CAAT, and the constituency that you have done so.
Cully Air Action Telemetry – CAAT (formerly Cully Air Action Team)
There are a few new developments for cleaning up the Cully airshed. First of all, I, and a member of the Cully Neighborhood Association, and one from Portland Clean Air, met with Mike Smaha, the ‘US Government Affairs’ lobbyist for Owens-Illinois (O-I), the company that owns the Owens-Brockway facility. At that meeting, I encouraged O-I to install electrostatic filters to remove Lead, Mercury, Chromium, and other dangerous contaminants from the Owens-Brockway pollution stream. We had a frank conversation, and even though O-I has installed those same filters at other O-I facilities, there were no commitments that O-I would clean up their act here in Cully.
DEQ is now reviewing public comments regarding the Owens-Brockway pollution permit and has stated that they, DEQ, “will incorporate any necessary changes into the permit.” Thanks to all who made comments regarding the permitting of Owens-Brockway.
DEQ also issued Owens-Brockway a $12,900 civil penalty in mid-December for hazardous waste violations. They paid the penalty and have taken steps to correct those violations.
Lastly, DEQ fined NW Metals $77,419 for violations. Last May, they had a terrible tire fire which led to forced evacuations of Cully residents, and caused injuries and property damage to surrounding homes. DEQ also amended the notice for the property owner, FHA Holdings, increasing the penalty to $43,954. NW Metals/FHA Holdings appealed the initial violations, and the case was sent to Oregon’s Office of Administrative Hearings for a contested case hearing. I have asked DEQ repeatedly how local residents can address this appeal, for I think many of you may have something to say. The process is rather long and byzantine but is described here, at the Oregon Secretary of State’s site, under OAR 137-003-0005, if you are interested.
Also, I have changed the name of this grassroots clean air advocacy group to Cully Air Action Telemetry.
Charting, monitoring and bettering air quality issues in the Cully neighborhood of NE Portland.