Category Archives: Public Comments

CAAT provides written comment on HB 2007 (diesel)

Comments regarding HB2007 

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. 

Thank you, 

Cully Association of Neighbors

Cully Air Action Telemetry

CAAT testifies on SB 792 (NW Metals)

NorthWest Metals, 7600 NE Killingsworth St Portland OR 97218

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. 

to

(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.

(e) Maintain verifiable environmental liability insurance.

(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)

Cully Association of Neighbors – CAN

Final Comments to DEQ regarding local polluter Owens-Brockway permit

Owens-Brockway, 5850 Ne 92nd Dr, Portland, OR 97220

Owens-Brockway, 5850 Ne 92nd Dr, Portland, OR 97220

Comments on the Draft Title V Operating Permit for Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc., Permit No. 26-1876-TV-01

In these final comments from the Cully Air Action Team (CAAT), on the permitting of the Owens-Brockway facility site, CAAT re-emphasizes the need for independently verifiable testing and monitoring of pollutant releases for the plant, rather than the current industry provided data, or, projections based on company-reported data. CAAT also insists that DEQ uses its authority to protect the local community’s health by insisting the Owens-Brockway facility install TBACT filters on all dangerous airborne release vectors within the Owens-Brockway site.

CAAT would also like to remind the Oregon DEQ and OHA that if the state does not assume authoritative control over regulation and subsequent negative health effects of ambient metals, HAPs, and other toxic releases from Owens-Brockway, that the state becomes an active participant in harming the community, the population, and local wildlife.

After eight days of air quality registering over 50 and at times close to 100 in terms of the PM 2.5 Air Quality Index, according to the DEQ Helensview monitor (October 16-24, 2018), it is clear that Cully residents being subjected to a toxic stew of nuisance odors, PM, and unfiltered HAPs. These airborne pollutants may includied Chromium, Lead, benzene, and other carcinogens and developmentally dangerous pollutants released from the Owens-Brockway site. During a recent stoppage of the Owens-Brockway facility due to disrupted natural gas supplies, the air was noticeably cleaner and the Helensview monitor indicated that (October 10-15, 2018). The nuisance odors, and the less noticeable toxicity leading to negative health and developmental effects on vulnerable populations, including newborns and elderly, are occurring again, now that the Owens-Brockway facility is up and running. There are three schools, and many gardens and fruits trees, and many families and low-income neighborhoods within a mile of this polluter, Owens-Brockway.

The Owens-Brockway site lacks TBACT filters and DEQ needs to mandate TBACT filters on all furnaces and stacks as a condition for reissuing this permit. The Hazard Index being experienced by local communities from Owens-Brockway pollutant releases must be recognized and protections enforced by state agencies, including Oregon DEQ. Waiting for severe health effects, including death, cancer, and CNS-related childhood ailments from the chronic exposures and synergistic effects of numerous pollutants, would be a terrible crime inflicted by the state on the vulnerable communities living and attending public schools near the Owens-Brockway site. It would also be a continuation of the previous disregard the state of Oregon has inflicted on poor communities and vulnerable and racially-mixed populations.

Again, the severe and negative health effects from the pollutants released from Owens-Brockway unfiltered furnace stacks and hazardous waste management are occurring now. These effects are falling onto and are being breathed in by pregnant women, children, the elderly, community residents, and local fish and wildlife populations subjected to the chemical and ambient metal pollution from the Owens-Brockway facility.

Given the opportunity for exercising authority to protect the health of the people of the state of Oregon, DEQ must insist that issuance of a new permit for Owens-Brockway includes the installation of TBACT filters to filter out the dangerous poisons this company releases on a daily basis into the community, and independent and verifiable monitoring of pollutants from the facility.