DEQ has set up a full spectrum monitor between Thomas Cully Park and 205 freeway. This is good timing because Thomas Cully Park has it’s Grand Opening this Saturday, June 30th! The new park is a great accomplishment for the people of Cully who advocated for it for so long. We need to insure that the kids playing there, the families picnicking, the lovers strolling, and the flora and fauna have a healthy airshed to breathe in this new park.
PSU has released their study of ambient (airborne) metal pollutants in the Cully neighborhood from testing done last summer. The good news is that lead levels are low, as are cadmium and nickel. There are elevated arsenic levels, but we have a good bit of native arsenic in our soil environment already.
Thank you to the neighbors who so graciously housed the monitoring equipment, the student scientists at PSU, Dr. Linda George, and Neighbors for Clean Air for making this happen.
To anyone who has lived in or visited the Cully neighborhood, the strange odors are still here: sulfur compounds and diesel PM and other fuel odors.
Next Wednesday, June 27, from 6-7 pm., we will be meeting to discuss how we want to work with DEQ regarding re-permiting the pollution releases from Owens-Brockway. Drop me a line if you want the meeting location.
Step-by-step, the air quality is improving, but we have a ways to go. In the meantime, please look over the attached file.
Rob Davis of The Oregonian penned this excellent article.
The article is about lead and other toxic releases from the Owens-Brockway Illinois glass recycling facility near Killingsworth and 205 in the Parkrose /Cully/Sumner neighborhoods of Portland, Ore. There are three public schools within less than one mile from the facility, and those children are at risk from the ambient lead emissions. So far, Owens-Brockway has refused to install filters or containment bags.
Owens-Brockway’s pollution permits are up for renewal this summer. CAAT will be working with Oregon DEQ to get Owens-Brockway to clean up their pollutant releases. Stay tuned!
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.
Here is short update from CAAT, the Cully Air Action Team:
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.
Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee Comments, August 29-30, 2017, Portland OR.
What happens when the economic benefits of pollution determine its regulation? Carol van Strum, a great Oregon resident, asked that question 30 years ago regarding a dangerous wood treatment chemical called Penta. The recent scandal involving Bullseye Glass’s metal contamination of a large swath of SE Portland opened the question up to public debate again, and led, in part, to these CAO regulatory planning sessions. The local community rose up, once again, outraged at Bullseye, and the DEQ, who had failed to protect public health.
The problem is, cost-benefit considerations, like acceptable risk, contain fatal flaws.
Prioritizing profit above community health, allowing paid corporate lobbyists to interfere with local decision-making, and gaming the system with regulatory loopholes, such as self-monitoring, confuse and diminish the regulatory protections which we all require for health and well-being.
The effects are not just nuisance odors which require us to close our windows and stay inside, but these toxins also endanger local wildlife, sabotage cottage industries such as eco-tourism and organic small scale farms, and create chronic neurological health conditions which burden public schools with autism, ADHD, asthma, and other health issues.
These toxic legacies are what CAO originally was designed to eliminate.
I think at this juncture of America culture and reality, we all recognize that racist and classist zoning laws, and institutional corruption, have created an Oregon where marginalized populations have borne the brunt of the effects of carcinogens, mutagens, and toxic irritants.
Marginalized populations have had little awareness of these poisons, virtually no redress, or even a chance to escape the local toxicity. Again, the echoes of Van Strum’s question sound: What happens when the economic benefits of pollution determine its regulation?
Unfortunately, over the past seven months I have watched as these CAO public input sessions have been undercut and pushed down the same old dead-end pathways. I have listened as the lobbyists pled inevitable economic calamities. It seems rather ironic then, that we all getting a kicker from Oregon taxes back next year.
While the latest proposed CAO draft contains many essential modifications to the existing permitting and regulatory structure, increasing cancer fatalities from polluting sources is one that is just not acceptable. Such a proposal has no structural integrity for the future, or for improving community health. There is no reason to give cancer a boost. I believe the public has been quite clear in opposition to elevating cancer deaths from new, or existing, industrial pollution sources.
In Sections 34-245-0080 and 34-245-0230, regarding Conditional Risk Level, often solid regulatory language is followed by loopholes allowing polluters to escape responsible pollution management practices. Section 34-245-0080 page 27 states: “(A) Risk Assessment. The owner or operator must _attempt to_ demonstrate that the source complies with the applicable Source Risk Action Level” I propose striking the words ‘attempt to’. The state must insure TBACT is being used fully and without reservation. I would also propose that ‘Conditional Risk’ permits are issued in a finite amount, say five permits around the state, reflecting the abstractions used in Acceptable Risk formulations for cancer deaths per x number of inhabitants. Once that total permit number is met, new permits must not be issued, or renewed, until one of the ‘conditional risk’ polluters returns to the regulatory fold in which all other companies must reside.
The 270 and 300 day reporting period also seems to me to be far too long. Unless I am misunderstanding 340-245-0050 (c)(8) on page 21 which states the polluter has almost a year to submit a Risk Assessment while they still are emitting poisons, I cannot understand the lack of diligence on the states part to protect the community health with this long and dirty time reporting period.
If the polluter is applying for one of these extraordinary ‘Conditional Risk’ permits, a more imminent relief to the dangers to public health is due. These limitations seem fair to me, and recognize that regulations are not subject to mere economics but must also include community health.
In Section 34-245-0230, page 48 (B)(c)(A), it should be incumbent on the industry to protect the health of the local population rather than have poison release determined by a monetary inability to control release. I cannot burn old tires in my yard because hauling them off to sanctioned dumpsite/recycler is too expensive. And the double whammy of health impacted by future liabilities is quite glaring here. As has often happened with toxic orphan sites, pollution remediation and health costs extrapolate wildly in future projections, with the public taxpayer forced to shoulder undue burdens of tax-funded relief efforts as well as those prior health maladies.
Further along, on page 49 the draft states: “(B) DEQ may consult with OHA, local elected officials, local Indian governing bodies, and state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction in the area of impact, before making a final determination regarding the postponement.” I would propose changing ‘may’ in Sentence One to ‘must’ to insure proper democratic representation of the local community regarding the issuing of any extra ordinary pollution permit allowances.
Section 340-245-0240 defines Source Ambient Monitoring Requirements. The agency should be applauded for inserting strong language and recognizing the local community’s needs and realities. However, the continued procedure of unregulated self-reported monitoring by individual polluting industries needs to be codified to insure compliance with verifiable data results. While DEQ may continue to practice unannounced visits to sites, as long as it has the means to, the sense that monitoring data will be conducted by the polluting industry as they see fit, often with coordination from out-of-state right wing think tanks and others, and whose submittal of data will likely not be challenged by DEQ or anyone else, calls into question the whole nature of permitting and enforcement by the state.
In many other industries, from medicine to education to public safety, to even driving an automobile, rigorous, objective, and verifiable testing and licensing is the norm. DEQ, perhaps in combination with OHA, should be the sole tester and verifier of data sets. Rather than the owner, or a lab he is told to hire by industry insiders, the agency must step in, test and verify, and enforce the laws. If nothing else this would insure equity on the part of the state as to how it deals with her people who seek licensure and industries who pollute and want to choose Oregon for their home.
for the Cully Air Action Team
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Porter Yett, the asphalt manufacturing facility on Cully Blvd between Portland Highway and Columbia, is the largest source of community nuisance odors complaints to DEQ locally, and one of the main concerns for CAAT in terms of focus. Their releases of noxious odors have long plagued the neighborhood. CAAT has been working with DEQ to pressure the company to take some responsibility for these contaminants and health effects, and to mitigate the odors.
It is with a sense of optimism, tempered by skepticism, that we welcome Porter Yett’s announcement that they will be using a new containment and filtering system called Blue Smoke Control to mitigate odors. Blue Smoke Control seems a promising and innovative system. The new Control system provides a more robust filtering system than the previous odor removal systems used by Porter Yett.
From the company brochure it seems that all production areas, from the entry of aggregate into the boilers for heating, to off-loading the finished asphalt into trucks will be in containment and toxic fumes filtered. Whether or not this truly ameliorates the problems of nuisance odors and toxicity release remains to be seen, or smelled. But CAAT is hopeful that Porter Yett’s initiative on mitigating the stench does work, and we applaud the company for moving to install this technology.
CAAT will continue to closely monitor this new development as the spring and summer paving season, with high asphalt production volumes, commences. It will still remain important for community members to file complaints about any noxious odors with DEQ, so that we at CAAT can follow-up and pressure DEQ into actionable response.
I want to share a story about pollution, and the excuses that are made to pretend that ignoring its existence will solve the problem.
I moved to Galway, Ireland, for a spell when I was 25. (If I had my druthers, I would never have left! Ah, immigration!) I arrived on an amazing September day, walking through the center city, pondering how and where I was going to work, where I would live, and what music I would see first. My meanderings took me from Shop Street, to High Street, to Quay Street, the fresh Galway Bay air surrounding me, billowing clouds in the sky, a lighthearted stride and a new beginning.
A walkway led along a tributary to Lough Corrib, which I was admiring, when I came across a fairly thick dam of rubbish – all sorts of plastic trash, a few sneakers, some chunky items I cannot recall – and my image of this beautiful and clean city came crashing down: This could not be the result of one, or even solely a few- days of filth tossed into a river, carried downstream and plugged by a dam that on wetter days would see the water carried over its top. Why was this there?! It’s a city sustained by tourism – doesn’t anyone care to keep up its image, at least?
I decided that I was going to figure out what to do about it.
I walked to the city’s administrative buildings, and spoke with the councilor for the local environment (my terms might be wrong, here, but the man was in charge of keeping the city clean.) I described what I had seen, and he said, “Sure, it’s not usually a problem! September has seen little rain, and most of the year the water carries all that rubbish into the Bay and out to sea!” We then had a discussion about how that wasn’t truly the solution to Galway’s rubbish issues, but I divined that there really wasn’t anyone employed to clean the Lough, and that was that.
So I went to the University College Galway (now NUI) to see if I could borrow a fishing net with a long handle to scoop the stuff out. The professor I spoke with was somewhat skeptical of my endeavors, but allowed me to borrow the net, as long as I returned it by the end of the day. I took the net, bought some gloves and ten large black plastic bags, returned to the scene and got to work.
I filled one, two, three, four black plastic bags, receiving stares and furtive quizzical looks all the while. When I was up to my eighth bag, a man, the one person who had briefly struck up conversation during my junk-fishing bonanza, had purchased more bags and brought them to me. I think I filled about twelve bags in all, and I actually began to find interesting the discarded crap in the nets.
I talked a construction crew into allowing me to sling the bags into their skips, returned the nets, and felt a little better that, once the rain came, everything that would have been washed out to sea was diverted into landfill. (Of course, I then discovered that Galway, the fastest growing city in western Europe, only had a primary treatment plant. The swans were bathing in raw sewage! Oi.)
So where am I going with this? Today, as with many days this summer, quite a few this autumn and several already this winter, Cully’s air has been fouled with the stench of asphalt, mainly due to atmospheric inversion. On the days when the ground temperature is warmer than the air, it is less noticeable, so there is a better chance that the VOCs and other airborne toxics remain unnoticeable. There is no problem, right? The pollution heads skyward, dissipates, and is essentially non-existent – or at least harder to pinpoint.
The same argument prevails, that, given the right conditions, pollution goes away. It’s not in our back yard, or in anyone’s back yard. It’s for the Earth to absorb or disperse. Portland is an unwilling recipient of toxics from China, Boardman, and other distant locations, all due to atmospheric conditions. All pollution ends up somewhere. In a twisted way, our toxic inversions are positive events as they alert people that there are truly problems with our air quality legislation – they can call, complain, get active in issues that affect everyone. People need clean air to survive. We can’t let industry or government continue to hide behind the guise of dissipation or loss of jobs. Call DEQ when you smell anything! It’s up to us.
There is a great deal of focus on Particulate Matter, or PM, these days. PM is a pollutant that comes primarily from soot and smoke. Diesel trucks and aircraft are major sources of PM pollutants. The Cully, Sumner and Parkrose neighborhoods are affected by heavy diesel truck traffic, PDX airport, the rail lines and the 205 freeway. In addition to industrial polluters, these sources contribute large amounts of oil and diesel PM pollution to our neighborhoods. Especially during a temperature inversion, these exhaust and soot fumes can create a dangerous local airborne stink event.
CAAT is teaming up with the Oregon Environmental Council-OEC, to create a monitoring project to determine diesel related PM pollution levels. This project will involve local community members taking measurements in the areas they frequent and walk through. It is an exciting opportunity to get involved and help the local airshed. If you want to participate in this study please contact us and attend our next meeting.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 6:00 -7:00 pm
Villas de Mariposas Community Room,
5205 NE Killingsworth St., Portland, OR 97218
Particulate Matter is a pollutant where the size of the particle matters. This has to do with how our lungs function while breathing as absorbers of atmospheric oxygen. With smaller PM there is more penetration into sensitive lung tissue. But even the larger PMs can cause difficulties in our lungs, throats and nasal cavities. Premature mortality incidence is associated with this pollutant. Other PM-related health impacts include chronic bronchitis, non-fatal heart attacks, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. In the chart below you can see the how the sizes of PM are related along the top and bottom horizontals. Current areas of regulatory focus are on PM 2.5 (size in microns) and PM 10.
While there are many kinds of PM, the ones of most import for air pollution monitoring and remedy are Black Carbon PMs. CAAT, OEC, Oregon DEQ and OHC are all beginning to work together to address these issues and to increase protective Oregon state regulations on diesel trucks. Currently Oregon has relatively lax laws regulating diesel trucks, much more permissive of pollutant and PM release than neighboring states. Oregon is far behind both California and Washington state in terms of upgrading diesel engines to meet healthy standards. Large trucking companies have taken advantage of that by dumping their dirtiest trucks here in our state. We will be working together in 2017 to find ways to reduce diesel pollution where it matters most for our health and our community. If you would like to be a part of this discussion please contact us and come to our next few meetings.