REGIONAL HAZE FROM INDUSTRIAL POLLUTERS NEEDS TO BE REDUCED

On the Columbia River looking east by Rooster Rock

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area here in the Pacific NW. Unfortunately, we do have smog from polluting industries that obscure that beauty. DEQ and Oregon EQC are attempting to regulate this, but getting pushback from the polluters, who apparently would prefer short-term profits and smogging out the stunning vistas that surround us all here.

CAAT wrote this letter in support of the proposed Regional Haze Rulemaking:

Public Comment on Regional Haze Division 223 Rulemaking

Dear Director Whitman, members of the Environmental Quality Commission, and DEQ staff:

The Cully Air Action Team (CAAT) is an organization of community members from Portland’s Cully neighborhood that focuses on addressing ongoing air pollution and toxicity in the community. CAAT is a part of the Cully Association of Neighbors.

CAAT is writing in support of proposed revised Regional Haze rulemaking. The Cully neighborhood is in the Columbia Slough watershed and is very aware of how airborne industrial pollutants affect the scenic quality Columbia River Gorge and other areas. We are working in our community to increase corporate social responsibility for polluting industries, including the Title V polluter Owens-Brockway at 9710 NE Glass Plant Road.

The Columbia River Gorge is one of the emblematic scenic gems in the Pacific Northwest, if not the entire nation. The historical significance of this area spans not just the last 150 years, but prior centuries of indigenous cultures, and of course stretching all the way back to the Lake Missoula Flood 13,000 years ago, that shaped the region and lay down the silts of the Willamette Valley. The stunning vistas and riverscapes of boulders and geographic features that still draw tourists from around the world to marvel and enjoy the scenic beauty begin with their descent into PDX, adjacent to the Cully neighborhood. 

For these reasons, and the more timely ones of a growing eco-tourism economy, the importance of a clean environment for salmon, riparian creatures, and other wildlife, CAAT asks the DEQ and EQC to adopt the proposed revised Regional Haze rules. For the proper caretaking of a viable, rich environment to leave to future generations, DEQ’s and EQC’s commitment to environmental justice must not allow the replication of damages caused by former negligence, or by other entities with less foresight and less commitment. CAAT asks you to adopt the proposed revised Regional Haze rules as written currently, and enforce them vigorously to protect that which we must never take for granted.

Owens-Brockway Update: Facility hit with $1 million fine by DEQ and appeals the states judgement

This letter was sent to Owens-Illinois after they appealed the DEQ fine:

June 28, 2021

Owens-Brockway Glass Container, Inc. c/o Jim Nordmeyer
Vice President, Global Sustainability O-I Glass, Inc.

BY EMAIL TO: jim.nordmeyer@o-i.com
CC: Geof Tichenor, Stoel Rives (geoffrey.tichenor@stoel.com)

RE: Community Input Regarding Owens-Brockway’s CAA Title V Violation (June 3, 2021)

Dear Mr. Nordmeyer:

On behalf of the undersigned community organizations and Cully neighborhood members, we write to both express disappointment in Owens-Brockway’s violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which have resulted in a third Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) enforcement action, and to urge O-I Glass, Inc. (hereafter O-I) to take action to address the concerning levels of pollution from the Owens-Brockway facility rather than fighting the most recent civil penalty of more than $1 million.

The Owens-Brockway glass plant located in Portland’s Cully neighborhood is a part of our city’s rich history, our state’s local economy, and one of the neighborhood’s main job creators. Cully includes the most racially/ethnically diverse Census tract in Oregon. This urban area is home to over 13,000 people, about half of whom are people of color, with nine in ten children on free or reduced-price lunch. The neighborhood is also experiencing significant gentrification pressures. More than 25 percent of the community lives below the federal poverty line. Latino residents account for almost a quarter of Cully’s population, followed by Black (16%) and Native American (9%) residents. Nearly one-fifth of residents are foreign-born, and the primary language for 31% of the population is non-English. The Cully neighborhood is considered an “overburdened community” under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s environmental justice guidelines, acknowledging that we are the recipient of a disproportionate amount of the burden of pollution-related illnesses and discomfort.

It is therefore deeply disturbing and unacceptable that the Owens-Brockway glass plant, which thrives on local labor and community recycling, continues to violate the Clean Air Act Title V permit for opacity limits and particulate matter (PM) limits. Owens-Brockway’s lack of preventative actions and refusal to install filters to reduce multiple pollutants of concern could easily be interpreted by many as systemic environmental racism that is rooted in placing dangerous industries near marginalized populations, including children and teachers at nearby public Title One schools, while ignoring the real health consequences from the facility’s pollution stream and emissions. That lack of corporate social responsibility has no place in our community, and we will continue to challenge you to become a good community partner

As you well know, opacity is an indicator of PM emissions levels and PM can contribute to respiratory distress in people, especially during a time of COVID-19. Owens-Brockway’s opacity exceedances are part of a pattern of at least fifty violations of the opacity limit at both Furnaces A and D since 2009. The most recent violations and fines documented by DEQ are from April 22, 2019,1 January 24, 2020,2 and this month’s more than $1 million penalty on June 3, 2021.3 Independent modeling conducted by engineer Todd Cloud (attached hereto) demonstrates that Owens-Brockway’s actual emissions are likely to cause exceedances of the 1- hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) even when the facility is operating only one furnace. We are disappointed and frustrated at Owens-Brockway’s long, demonstrated history of noncompliance with environmental protections, and are deeply troubled by O-I’s decision to drag out the regulatory process by requesting a hearing to appeal enforcement action.

The relationship between Owens Brockway and the Cully neighborhood is a strained and complicated one, but it does not have to be that way. As fellow community members that share the Cully neighborhood with you, we ask you to honor our right to and desire for clean air in the Cully neighborhood and all of Portland, while operating a law-abiding plant. Instead of expending resources appealing the Title V enforcement action, we urge you to focus on implementing control strategies that will both remedy the permit violations and reduce the multiple other pollutants of concern emitted from the facility. Importantly, we urge you to include the communities we represent in that process.

We know Owens-Brockway is not responsible for all environmental injustices in the area but want you to help start making it cleaner and safer for vulnerable populations, and to thrive as a positive community member.

Please include us in your compliance processes and conversations regarding the pollutants of concern at your facility and do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.

1 https://www.oregon.gov/deq/nr/0419Owens-Brockway.pdf.
2 https://www.oregon.gov/deq/nr/012420Owens-Brockway.pdf.
3 https://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=54786.

Sincerely,

Cully Air Action Team (CAAT) 
Eastside Portland Air Coalition (EPAC) 
Neighbors for Clean Air 
Oregon Environmental Council
Portland Clean Air
Verde

DEQ and OHA Presentation to Cully association of Neighbors regarding Owens-brockway

April 13, 2021

Key takeaways:
Owens.-Brockway has not made any upgrades to their facilities.

Owens-Brockway is releasing 597 lbs of lead (Pb), 192 lbs of arsenic, and maybe as much as 101000 tons of CO2 annually from their Portland facility.

DEQ wants people to let them know by April 30 of any parks where people gather, day-schools, or other areas where people are within 2 km (about a mile and half) from the facility.

An ‘immediate curtailment’ of operations may be enforceable under Cleaner Air Oregon regulations, especially if you ask DEQ and politicians for that.



Here is CAAT’s April 15 response to DEQ staff:


I feel the discussion at Tuesday nights, CAN meeting went well enough, although the elevated risk associated with the Arsenic and Lead (Pb) numbers is very concerning. It seems, once again, that Owens-Brockway has not been honest about the level of toxins they are introducing into the NE Portland environment. 

The areas of public gatherings within 2 km of the facility are known, or easy to find, and it should be emphasized that given the meteorological nature of NE Portland along the Columbia River Valley, dispersal of these dangerous toxins must be more widespread than the 2km perimeter, and that is not necessarily a good thing given the long-lived nature of these toxins, the already high levels of arsenic in urban area soil, and bioaccumalation of the neurotoxin lead (Pb). 

At this point, the Cully Air Action Team is asking for an ‘immediate curtailment’ of operations at the Owens-Brockway facility under Cleaner Air Oregon given the new numbers from the most current risk inventory assessment. Owens-Brockway has refused to install any viable filtering technology, despite numerous asks from the community to do so.

As Portland Clean Air has determined:
“Annual airborne arsenic: 192 lbsIf the modeling stays the same as the Level I Screening then the cancer risk for neighbors would be 26,899 per millionIf the modeling stays the same as the Level I Screening then the noncancer chronic risk is a hazard index of 3,792

Annual airborne lead is 597 lbsIf the modeling stays the same as the Level I Screening then the noncancer acute risk is a hazard index of 90
These are extraordinarily high numbers compared to … other Portland industries.Under Cleaner Air Oregon, The worst risk allowed would be existing facilities with Best Available Control Technology or who are in compliance with a National Emission Standards for Hazardous AirPollutants order, are allowed to emit air contaminants which will result in no more than 200 cancers per million people and have a Hazard Index no higher than 10.”

Cully Air Action Team is aware of Agency limitations but this is a clear example of how Cleaner Air Oregon was designed to be implemented to protect the health of Oregonians from excessive and dangerous air pollution from a single point-source polluter, in this case Owens-Brockway.

As you know, the Cully community has been harmed by industrial pollution excess in the past, and given the changing demographics of new arriving families moving into this still relatively affordable area, where BIPOC and new low-income housing are welcomed and new housing is being constructed, it is critical that DEQ act swiftly under CAO to initiate the ‘immediate curtailment’ of industrial operations at Owens-Brockway and any further contamination of the local environment.

NW Metals final Permit Meeting in December

There will be two Virtual meetings, on Saturday December 12 and Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Public comment will be taken.

Saturday, December 12 meeting at 1pm : Register in advance at this link.

Tuesday, December 15 meeting at 6 pm: Register in advance at this link.

For all of you interested in seeing NW Metals have their permits cancelled at their new location, DEQ is having a virtual public meeting where comments can be made next Saturday, December 12 from 1pm-4pm. It’s been a long fight to get this polluter into compliance, and they have fought to slow down the process at every step along the way. Now is your chance to let the DEQ know your feelings about this company and their continued efforts to break laws, pollute the air, and endanger the public. You can also submit written comments to DEQ by January 8th, 2021, or attend the second virtual public hearing to be held on Tuesday, December 15 at 6 pm. Remember to register to make sure you are on the Agenda 

These and other comments were submitted to DEQ by CAAT regarding permits in November 2020:

The Cully Air Action Team (CAAT) is an organization of community members from Portland’s Cully neighborhood that focuses on addressing ongoing air pollution and toxicity in the community. CAAT is a part of the Cully Association of Neighbors.

CAAT writes this Declaration in support of DEQ’s opposition regarding NW Metals request to restart the ‘shredder’ at their new location. The Cully Association of Neighbors also agrees that the DEQ ruling be upheld. The company, NW Metals, has proven themselves an irresponsible operator at their previous location, 7600 NE Killingsworth St., Portland, OR., and a flagrant violator of existing laws and codes regarding the health and safety of the Cully neighborhood in Portland and the local environment. These violations are well documented by at least two state Agencies (see DEQ Notice of Civil Penalty Assessment and Order Case No. WQ/SW-NWR-2018-063, and DMV Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty and Sanction, December 24, 2020), and include storage containment failures and excessive noise violations.

NW Metals has shown a propensity for playing loose with regulatory statutes, indeed even allowing that attitude to take primacy over any obligations they may have from existing regulations, previous violations, or the basics of acceptable neighborliness. This business model, by NW Metals, is part of the reason why other local scrap operators have told CAAT verbatim that NW Metals is a ‘bad actor’ for scrap and auto salvage operators and not indicative of normal business practices for that industry.

CAAT would like to emphasize recognizing NW Metals pattern of violations as they attempt to restart operations in an area with significant ecological and recreational value while gumming up the system with endless appeals that seemed designed to derail regulatory processes. The close proximity of NW Metals new salvage site at 9537 North Columbia Boulevard to Chimney Park, the Columbia Slough and adjacent wetlands, and important migratory bird resting areas would impact those recreational and wildlife sites with adverse noise and diesel Particulate Matter (PM) smoke from the ‘shredder’. For the Columbia Slough, NW Metals pattern of irresponsibility and refusal to follow basic environmental regulations, storage practices, and containment methods would mean that trout, juvenile salmon, mammals, and other water, riparian and wetland species would be negatively impacted by diesel contamination, improper containment of hazardous waste, and constant loud noise from NW Metals operating the ’shredder’. 

Again, CAAT asks you to uphold DEQ’s opposition to allowing NW Metals to restart their shredder at their new location, 9537 North Columbia Boulevard, Portland, or any other location.

CAAT~Cully Air Action Team

Cully Association of Neighbors

NW Metals to vacate the property

MW Metals, 7600 NE Killingsworth St. Portland, Ore.

The notorious polluter and regulatory violator NW Metals is supposed to vacate the property off Killingsworth next to Comcast by the end of October. FHA Holdings, their landlord, has committed to cleaning the property up, and even drilling down into the aquifer to make sure NW Metals contamination did not reach it. This is great news! NW Metals is moving to 9537 N. Columbia Blvd, out past St. Johns, and Cully Air Action is trading information with community members out there to make sure the polluter is monitored closely.

Unfortunately, NW Metals can move anywhere they want. They will have to re-apply for a new permit and they will be coming under the new Cleaner Air Oregon regulations, which is a good thing because DEQ knows they are bad actors and lawbreakers. There are a few things you can do: 
1) Contact DEQ and tell them they should not issue a permit to NW Metals. 
2) Ask DEQ, at 503-229-5696, to put you on the e-mail alert for NW Metals permit public hearings. DEQ is obligated to have a public hearing about the the new permit. It will be a Zoom meeting and you will be allowed to speak your mind. It is very important for you to respond at the meeting about your views on NW Metals. That meeting should happen in the next few months. 
3) Contact your State Reps and tell them to not let DEQ issue a permit to NW Metals. See above for phones of your Reps. Please call them now.

DEQ page on NW Metals: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Programs/Pages/nescrap.aspx

September 2020 Update

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:

Cully’s Vile ‘Soup’ recipe finally released by DEQ in their 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary

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:

Arsenic (developmental toxin)

Chromium (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)

Nickel (carcinogen; probable for developmental toxin; F/M reproductive toxin)

Selenium (selenosis)

These VOCs are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. Most of these register below danger levels, however, they are part of the recipe for the vile ‘soup’:

High compared to other testing sites:

1,2 Dimethylbenzene (used in many industrial processes, one form being xylene, can cause headaches and depression) (the SE 45th site has some crazy maximums)

1,3 Butadiene (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)

2-Butanone (MEK) (respiratory irritant)

Acetone (developmental toxin; male reproductive toxin)

Acrylonitrile (carcinogen) (high numbers at other test sites but Cully has 100% ND which is mighty strange)

Benzene (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)

Carbon disulfide (carcinogen; developmental toxin; F/M reproductive toxin)

Carbon tetrachloride (carcinogen)

Ethylbenzene (carcinogen) (the SE 45th site has a high maximum)

Toluene (developmental toxin)

Trichlorotrifluoroethane (a CFC that destroys the UV protective ozone layer)

These PAH’s are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. Most of these register below danger levels, however, they are part of the vile ‘soup’:

Acenaphthene (carcinogen; respiratory irritant)

Dibenzofuran (carcinogen if in polychlorinated form)

Fluoranthene (potential carcinogen, scary synergistics)

Fluorene (irritant)

Phenanthrene (irritant)

Napthalene (irritant; potential carcinogen, mothball odor)

Carbonyls:

Acetaldehyde (carcinogen)

Formaldehyde (carcinogen)

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; 

Representative Tawna Sanchez Capitol Phone: 503-986-1443;  

Senator Lew Frederick Capitol Phone: 503-986-1722; 

DEQ Complaint Line 1-888-997-7888 

Most of the health effects info comes from: 

The Prop. 65 List/OEHHA: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list/

or, PubChem: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

The 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary is available online at 

https://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/Documents/2018AirToxicsSum.pdf

CAAT Update January 2020

NW Metals: 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.

NW metals update: DMV developments and DEQ TRO against NW Metals

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

More details are here: [https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Programs/Pages/nescrap.aspx]This represents an important step by DEQ to force NW Metals to clean up their act, or shut it all down.

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.

CAO Hazard rules comments

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:

Acrolein

Anilene

Dichlorovis (DDVP)

Diethelylene glycol monoethyl ether

1,2-Epoxybutane

Hexamethylene-1,6-dilsocynate

4,4’-Methylenedianiliene (and its dichloride)

Propylene

Propylene glycol dinitrate

Silica, crystalline (respirable)

1,2,3-Trichloropropane

Vinyl bromide

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.