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.
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:
Senate Bill 792 was designed to address the NW Metals fire 2018. CAAT submitted this written testimony:
Written Comments to Oregon Legislative Assembly regarding
Senate Bill 792
March 12, 2019
The NW Metals catastrophic fire one year ago on March 12, 2018 caused physical and psychological harm, and property destruction, and led to a mandatory evacuation of residents in the Cully community. Hazardous wastes, from burning solid-waste stored haphazardly on-site, became airborne and settled over a wide area to the west of the facility, including public schools, community and individual local agricultural gardens, private yards, and public parks. Hazardous waste and fire extinguishing fluids from the site were not contained and most likely entered into the local watershed, already compromised by decades of under-regulated industrial contamination.
The Cully community and the outlying environs have a number of unregulated solid waste storage facilities and auto-dismantlers, also known as ‘chop shops’. No one is sure of the actual number since it seems many of these polluters are not regulated. These unregulated polluters continue to negatively affect the health of the community and diminish property values. These unregulated polluters are also negatively affecting the health of local wildlife populations and continue to complicate the clean-up of existing polluted waterways, including the Columbia Slough watershed, by improperly storing and containing solid wastes and hazardous wastes, spills, catastrophic releases, and illegal dumping.
As the community suffered through the NW Metals catastrophic fire and airborne toxic event, we turned for relief to Oregon DEQ and to our Oregon state legislators. We have asked state Agencies to regulate these facilities and perform investigatory actions, levy fines, and aggressively pursue polluters and shut them down if they refuse to implement protective practices to stop public exposure to hazardous wastes. We have asked legislators to impose conditions on the permitting of polluters to provide a buffer zone between them and community households. As a frontline community with many low-income neighbors, families with children, elderly residents on fixed incomes, first-time homeowners, new immigrant/refugee families, and a vibrant new housing development economy, the community expressed frustration with the existing state apparatus for protecting our health and well-being and expressed an alacrity for implementation of changes that would allow existing laws and regulations to be acted upon. We are, a year plus later, still waiting for state relief from these known dangers, created by under-regulated and unregulated solid-waste storage companies, auto-dismantlers, and chop shops.
The Amendments to SB 792 begin to address some of these concerns but not to address the existing problem. In other words, members of the community are well aware of the problems that exist and still await action from the State Agency’s to insure the health and well-being of local residents and the health of the local wildlife and ground water supplies. Furthermore, as environmental contamination and resultant health maladies become more evident, due to past regulatory and Agency failures, CAAT (Cully Air Action Telemetry) and CAN (Cully Association of Neighbors) encourage the state to revisit this piece of legislation and improve it to create an enforceable SB that serves the people and communities of Oregon, including protecting their health from existing and future toxic contamination, rather than create a ‘paper tiger’ that maintains the same levels of past inadequacy, or worse, that reflects the well-documented influence of industries financial contributions rather than the well-being of the people.
In regards to the particular language designations and constraints of SB 792 (2019) Amendments CAAT (Cully Air Action Telemetry), and CAN (Cully Association of Neighbors), urge legislators to correct the following, and to insert the additional items, described below:
Proposed Amendments to SB 792 requested by Representative KOTEK (v. 3.11.2019)
Section 1 (1) Line 7 Insert
…ORS 822.110, except for ORS 822.110 Section (2) (a) and (b),…
Section 1 (2) Line 13 Insert
…of Transportation, after public notice and consultation with community groups, tribal groups, and other affected parties. Public Notice will be financed in toto by company or individuals requesting site expansion.
Section 1 (d) Page 2, Line 15. Change
(d) Maintains a current bond that meets the requirements under ORS 822.120.
(d) Increase the current bond by amending ORS 822.120 written guarantee to $500,000.00
Section 1 New Item. Insert after (d) Page 2, Line 15.
(d- The existing $500 ‘written guarantee’ is a joke, right? It has to be. It is merely a signal to polluters that it is cheaper to create toxic plumes and illegal solid-waste dumps, pay the fine, and walk away than be a responsible neighbor to local communities. Oregon DEQ has repeatedly stated to the community that they do not have the resources to do their job, so increasing the ‘written guarantee’ within OSR 822.120 becomes a priority, or,
e- Mandatory, verifiable environmental liability insurance needs to be codified within existing regulatory framework, just the same as any Oregon resident is required to have auto liability insurance if they choose to drive an automobile, because industry has proven over and over again that ‘gaming the system’ at taxpayers expense is an acceptable part of a business model in the State of Oregon. Prior incompetence by state Agencies has also allowed polluting industries to create and exploit loopholes, or flat-out ignore environmental responsibilities with little of no consequence.)
Section 4 New Item(s) (9) and (10) page 5 Line 11. Insert
(9) Either enter into a Prospective Purchaser Agreements (PPAs) with DEQ, publicly noticed to adjacent communities for public comment before implementation, or,
(10) Earmark not less than 5% of company’s total gross receipts to an Orphan Sites Account (OSA) Contaminated Site cleanup fund.
(These two items may be combined, but it is crucial that the State allows and directs Agency’s to create a framework for responsible practices for polluting industries, and to allow public participation in the design of PPA’s. The OSA, if it still exists in Oregon’s state framework, should be pre-loaded by polluting industries rather than rely on future taxpayer revenue. IF OSA has sunset, then a new Orphan Fund for solid-waste auto dismantles and storage facility needs to be created.)
Section 7 (h) (4) Page 6, Line 13. Change
Change “may” to “shall”
Please make these changes and alert CAAT, and the constituency that you have done so.
Cully Air Action Telemetry – CAAT (formerly Cully Air Action Team)
There are a few new developments for cleaning up the Cully airshed. First of all, I, and a member of the Cully Neighborhood Association, and one from Portland Clean Air, met with Mike Smaha, the ‘US Government Affairs’ lobbyist for Owens-Illinois (O-I), the company that owns the Owens-Brockway facility. At that meeting, I encouraged O-I to install electrostatic filters to remove Lead, Mercury, Chromium, and other dangerous contaminants from the Owens-Brockway pollution stream. We had a frank conversation, and even though O-I has installed those same filters at other O-I facilities, there were no commitments that O-I would clean up their act here in Cully.
DEQ is now reviewing public comments regarding the Owens-Brockway pollution permit and has stated that they, DEQ, “will incorporate any necessary changes into the permit.” Thanks to all who made comments regarding the permitting of Owens-Brockway.
DEQ also issued Owens-Brockway a $12,900 civil penalty in mid-December for hazardous waste violations. They paid the penalty and have taken steps to correct those violations.
Lastly, DEQ fined NW Metals $77,419 for violations. Last May, they had a terrible tire fire which led to forced evacuations of Cully residents, and caused injuries and property damage to surrounding homes. DEQ also amended the notice for the property owner, FHA Holdings, increasing the penalty to $43,954. NW Metals/FHA Holdings appealed the initial violations, and the case was sent to Oregon’s Office of Administrative Hearings for a contested case hearing. I have asked DEQ repeatedly how local residents can address this appeal, for I think many of you may have something to say. The process is rather long and byzantine but is described here, at the Oregon Secretary of State’s site, under OAR 137-003-0005, if you are interested.
Also, I have changed the name of this grassroots clean air advocacy group to Cully Air Action Telemetry.
Charting, monitoring and bettering air quality issues in the Cully neighborhood of NE Portland.