Category Archives: Minutes and Meeting Notes

Updates, announcements and outreach.

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 environment 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 your 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.

January 5, 2019: New CAAT things


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.

Stay tuned!

SB 1541 and Cleaner Air Oregon

On a call today with Mary Peveto of NCA, CAAT has decided to guardedly endorse the passage of SB 1541. I hope the residents of the Cully neighborhood and Cully Association of Neighbors agree. I think they do. While SB 1541 is a flawed piece of legislation, it is important to be pragmatic right now and ensure adequate funding of DEQ so that Cleaner Air Oregon can be implemented, and so that we can build a strong environmental regulatory structure for the Cully neighborhood and the state of Oregon. CAAT will continue to work with DEQ and OHA to build this framework. I will try to present some more info about this at the next Neighborhood Association Meeting on Tuesday, March 13th.

October 3rd Cleaner Air Meeting

Here is  short update from CAAT, the Cully Air Action Team:

The Porter Yett facility, source of asphalt nuisance odors in Cully, is installing a Blue Smoke reduction device. This may solve the odor problems. In the meantime, please remember to file complaints with DEQ at 1-888-997-7888. Complaints will allow DEQ to gauge the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the new equipment.
CAAT is working with Neighbors for Clean Air and PSU to install four ambient metal air monitors in Cully. The monitors are sited in Cully neighbors yards. Thank you to those Cully residents! The monitors will test for metals in our airshed, such as lead particles from Owens-Illinois Glass recycling. Findings will be analyzed by PSU graduate students under the direction of Dr. Linda George, at PSU. We expect data and results in late 2017. DEQ will also site a full-air toxics (including VOC’s) monitors in winter 2017-18.
Some metals are dangerous, creating massive problems in the human body when bio-accumulated. Metals can float through the air as ambients, covering food crops, and collecting in the soil. VOC’s, like paint thinners, are highly carcinogenic and some are mutagenic. Ambient metals and VOCs also cause respiratory distress, reduced immunological response to colds and viruses, and are indicated in ADHD (cadmium), and causatives for childhood neurological changes (lead, cadmium, et al.)
Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), the statewide shift in how Oregon deals with air pollutants, suffered a setback in the 2017 legislative session. But, it is still moving forward due to an increased awareness and understanding of public health concerns. The setback regards funding DEQ’s implementation of CAO at the state level. One additional area of concern being debated currently regards an increase in the number of cancer deaths allowed in a population living near new and existing polluters. CAAT, and other grassroots organizations, are pressuring DEQ to not make this change, called ‘Risk Action Levels’, in Cleaner Air Oregon legislation. Cancer death levels should be decreased, not increased. Please contact your State Representatives, and Governor Brown, and tell them to decrease the ‘Risk Action Levels’, not increase them. The burden here is on the public, for cancers, other pollution related illnesses, and for paying for treatments. Polluting industries must use the best technology available to move towards zero toxic emissions.
CAAT is trying to do a lot! We still need to research National Guard and Port of Portland pollution, PCB contamination of Johnson Lake and the Columbia Slough, and particulate matter (PM), ‘black soot’, pollution from industry, trains, diesel trucks and busses, and highways. CAAT is looking for people who want to become more involved in protecting our local airshed and environs. Join with CAAT at our Facebook site, https://www.facebook.com/groups/CullyStinkTeam, or by e-mailing  gsotir@cullycleanair.org

Neighbors for Clean Air is hosting a community workshop on effective air advocacy and public comments from 5:30-9 p.m. at the NAYA Cafetorium (5135 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, OR 97218) on Tuesday, October 3rd. We will be providing dinner, translation services, and childcare for all attendees. Cully’s own CAAT, cullycleanair.org, will be there, as well.

 

Here is  short update from CAAT:

The Porter Yett facility, source of much of the asphalt nuisance odors in Cully, has purchased and is installing a Blue Smoke reduction device. This may solve many of the nuisance odor problems. In the meantime, please remember to file nuisance odor complaints with DEQ via phone at 1-888-997-7888. This is important because a ‘decrease’ or ’no change’ in complaints will allow DEQ to gauge the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the new equipment.

CAAT is working with Neighbors for Clean Air and PSU to install four ambient metal air monitors in Cully. The four monitors are now sited in four of Cully’s gracious neighbors yards. Thank you to those Cully residents! The monitors will test for metals that have been dumped into our airshed, such as the lead particles from Owens-Illinois Glass recycling. Finding will be analyzed by PSU graduate students under the direction of Dr. Linda George, a professor at PSU. We expect data and results by the end of the year. DEQ will also site one of their full-air toxics monitors to test for volatile organic compounds, VOC’s (!!!yaaay!!!) in winter 2017-18.

Metals are dangerous because the can create massive problems in the human body when bio-accumulated. They can float through the air as ambients, and cover food crops, and lodge themselves in the soil. VOC’s, like paint thinners, are highly carcinogenic and some are mutagenic. Ambient metals and VOCs also cause respiratory distress, reduced immunological response to colds and viruses, and are indicated in ADHD (cadmium) and causatives for childhood neurological changes and disorders (lead, cadmium, et al.)

Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), the omnibus statewide shift in how Oregon deals with air pollutants, suffered a setback in the 2017 legislative session in Salem. But, it is still moving forward due to an increased awareness and understanding, and urgency, for public health concerns. The setback primarily regards funding DEQ’s implementation of CAO at the state level. One additional area of concern being debated currently regards an increase in the number of cancer deaths allowed in a population living near new and existing polluters. CAAT, and other grassroots organizations, are pressuring DEQ to not make this change in Cleaner Air Oregon legislation. It is called ‘Risk Action Levels’ and this assessment for cancer death levels should be decreased, not increased. Please contact your State Representatives, and Governor Brown, and tell them to decrease the proposed ‘Risk Action Levels’, not increase them. The burden here is on the public, for cancers, other pollution related illnesses, and for paying for treatments. Polluting industries must use the best technology available to move towards zero toxic emissions.

With a great sense of sadness, CAAT saw intern Miguel Torres-Mondragon leave due to family issues. Miguel helped CAAT with organizing Spanish speaking Cully residents. CAAT, and Living Cully, are interviewing new interns for outreach to diverse communities and to promote Environmental Justice (EJ.) This position is being funded by a grant from our good friends, Neighbors for Clean Air.

CAAT is trying to do a lot! But we still need to research National Guard and Port of Portland pollution, PCB contamination of Johnson Lake and the Columbia Slough, and particulate matter (PM), ‘black soot’, pollution from industry, trains, diesel trucks and busses, and highways.

Finally, CAAT needs you. CAAT is looking for people who want to become more involved in protecting our local airshed and environs. If interested in a ‘Meet and Greet’ for August/September 2017 please get in touch. Join with CAAT at our Facebook site or by e-mailing  info@cullycleanair.org

CAAT and Oregon Environmental Council Bring Citizen Science Diesel Study to Cully

On Tuesday, 6 December, Oregon Environmental Council and CAAT will present a diesel-focused outreach in both Spanish and English to Cully residents.

OEC will discuss the effects of diesel on human health and ways in which we are exposed to its particulates, then elaborate on the neighborhood diesel study in which we will participate. Building upon the pilot program in the Lents neighborhood, we will use black carbon monitoring and technology to upload a map which documents our exposure.

This will be a fun and informative meeting! Childcare, food and translation are available. It’s not imperative, but please contact xanham@cullycleanair.org to RSVP for childcare, or for more questions.

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CAAT OEC espanol

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CAAT OEC flier ingles

Cleaner Air Oregon Public Forum & Rally, 5 Oct

xan1CAAT wants you to come to the Cleaner Air Oregon Public Forum on Wednesday, October 5th!

There will be a rally at 5:00pm, before the Forum officially starts at 6:00pm. The forum is schedule to end at 8:30pm.

Cleaner Air Oregon wants to hear from people across the state to pass on their views and thoughts to the CAO Regulatory Advisory Committee. This is a VERY IMPORTANT opportunity for Cully to share what is on their mind regarding the upcoming revamping of our air quality legislation.

The forum with include presentations by DEQ and OHA staff, and there will be opportunity to give this input after these presentations.

There will be childcare and interpretation if DEQ has advance notice that both are needed. Respond if you have these needs to CleanerAir.Oregon.gov/forum-rsvp

If you can’t attend, there will be an online version of the forums available via CleanerAir.Oregon.gov from Sep 13 – Oct 5.

Monday Air Quality Update

The Cully Air Action Team has been extremely busy and involved in air quality issues over the past few months. This is the first weekly posting spree, split into several topic-based posts, serving to bring readers up to speed on CAAT’s activism and issues that exist with air quality in Cully, in addition to listing important upcoming meetings and events that people should attend. We all breathe air from the same airshed!

July saw the establishment of a weekly, 30-minute call-in conversation with representatives of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Multnomah County, to discuss the many air quality issues that affect us, in Cully: Heavy industry with little or no air filtration; several high-use transportation corridors; the Port of Portland; Forest Service moss results;  Air Quality informational meetings; specific polluters I will mention, below.

The United States Forest Service (USFS) moss samples indicated that Cully is the most polluted neighborhood in all of Portland. From this data, DEQ decided to establish two air monitors in Cully. One air monitor was located on 1 Sep at Parkrose Deliverance Tabernacle on NE 57th & Portland Highway, while the second is at a BES Pumping Station on about NE 62nd, north of Columbia Highway, placed 19 Sep. Both air monitors are functioning, with data collected daily by DEQ. To complement these monitors, a meteorological data station has been mounted atop Living Cully Plaza. On 1 Oct, DEQ will begin to analyze 30 days’ worth of data from the first monitor, in addition to corresponding meteorological data, and we are told to expect results sometime mid-Oct. These results will indicate what has been in the air for 30 days, but unfortunately will not pinpoint the source of the heavy metals. If the results show that there is a level of heavy metals that exceeds state health benchmarks, OHA will take some form of action to alert public.

As to why DEQ is spending so much time, effort and outreach on Cully:

  1. Cully is a historically underserved community, the largest and most diverse neighborhood in Portland. There are issues of environmental justice and unheard voices that need to be immediately addressed.
  2. From the Moss Samples we can see that Cully is off the chartsregarding aluminum, chromium and cobalt (highest in Portland for all three), iron; very high in arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, and molybdenum. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr938.pdf

This is a fantastic document, listing all the moss sample sites throughout the city, and the corresponding metals found in each sample. Although I knew Cully was bad, I hadn’t considered all the metals measured in the samples, as Bullseye and Uruboros were gathering attention for Chromium, Cobalt, and Arsenic. Thus, when I looked at the sample from two blocks away, I was astounded to see the aluminium measured the worst in the city. Everyone should look at their closest moss samples to see what was collected. It is difficult to envision air pollution amidst blue skies and gorgeous days.