As I mentioned before, last week was a big week. You are probably already aware, Representative Mitch Greenlick attended our Town Hall Meeting with DEQ in May. He followed that up by meeting with Dick Pedersen, director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. It seems that Rep. Greenlick shares our concerns about industrial air pollution and the potential adverse health risks to us and our children. Rep. Greenlick, and three other state representatives:Tina Kotek (D-N/NE Portland), Michael Dembrow (D-NE Portland) and Ben Cannon (D-NE/SE Portland) made a very exciting announcement on Tuesday of last week, the formation of an Air Quality Workgroup within his Health Care Committee.
It should be noted that the press release cites the “public outcry” from residents concerned about air quality. Our voices are being heard, and it is important that we keep using them. Thanks to everyone who has been willing to sign the petition
, and send letters. This is so important in getting the right people’s attention on this issue; and I am convinced it will be the crucial component in seeing real change enacted regarding the mitigation of industrial pollution. Read on for the official press release, and please contact Tom Powers (Tom.Powers@state.or.us) if you want to participate in the Air Quality Workgroups. It is very important that we demonstrate our ongoing commitment to this issue by participating fully in this important process.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tom Powers
June 16, 2009 (503) 986-1433
Health Care Committee to Form
Air Quality Workgroup
SALEM, Ore.—Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-NW Portland) today announced the formation of a workgroup of the House Health Care Committee to study the health effects of Portland-area air quality. Joining Rep. Greenlick, chair of the committee, on the workgroup are Representatives Tina Kotek (D-N/NE Portland), Michael Dembrow (D-NE Portland) and Ben Cannon (D-NE/SE Portland).
Members of the Health Care Committee are wrapping up the 2009 Legislative Session this month and upon adjournment sine die, each will return home to work on important issues during the interim. The Portland-area members of the committee decided to form an interim workgroup in response to outcry from residents who have grown uneasy about air conditions in northern Portland.
“I have received many calls and emails from constituents in northwest Portland who are concerned about the negative health effects of poor air quality in the area,” said Rep. Greenlick. “The workgroup we are forming in the interim will gather comments and input from the public as well as findings from experts in these fields.”
A recent USA Today report concluded that multiple Portland schools rank in the top first or second percentile nationwide among schools with poor air quality. “We need to change the reality that schools in my district rank first in the nation for being located in communities with very poor air quality,” said Rep. Kotek. “I am eager to work with my colleagues to find solutions as we look into this important issue.”
Representative Dembrow added that many constituents have been contacting his office about air quality in House District 45, which stretches from Irvington to Parkrose. “Not a week goes by that I don’t hear about someone else from Portland who has developed a respiratory problem. I look forward to getting to the bottom of this during the interim,” said Rep. Dembrow.
The air quality workgroup is slated to convene for several meetings in the late summer this year in Northwest and North Portlandneighborhoods. Members of the public are encouraged to attend each meeting. The committee will announce the setting of each meeting after the close this session. For more information please please contact Sandy Thiele-Cirka at (503) 986-1286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been looking for a medium to best share updates and more information regarding the neighborhood industrial air pollution issue with more people. My network maxxes out when I send too many emails within 24 hours. Let me know if reading a blog works for you. I will send an email announcement when I update it with something significant or actionable.
Last week was big. Not just because my family spent 3 eye-opening days at the Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia, WA. That is definitely another story. More interesting was the flurry of discussion around another ODEQ issue that The Oregonian has been covering since 30 May in Steve Duin’s column and online blog. If you didn’t see it, and in case you are still doubting if we have to worry about DEQ’s oversight of our industrial neighbors, you might be interested in catching up:
That brings me to how the week started off with the much anticipated response from Cory Ann Wind of DEQ to our concerns voiced during the Town Hall Mtg on 21 May at Chapman. I don’t want to ruin it for you all, but there is not a lot of concrete action, except to ask for more meetings. But please read the email sent on 15 June 09 for yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts:
Sorry for the delayed response to your request. Thank you for your email and invitation to the neighborhood meeting at Chapman Elementary. DEQ is committed to addressing your concerns and hope that with your help on both the ESCO permit renewal and Portland Air Toxics Solutions advisory committee, that we are able to identify and implement agreeable solutions to the problem.
1. You suggested that we explore and mutually agree on permanent testing and monitoring of ESCO and all other sources of industrial emissions. While there are resource limitations, we are willing to explore the possibility of ambient monitoring for air toxics in Northwest Portland. DEQ will also be analyzing the monitoring requirements in ESCO’s permit during the renewal of the permit (See Item #5) to determine whether the amount and type of monitoring required is appropriate.
2. You asked for a review of the Cooper Environmental Services fence-line monitoring data. We are committed to sharing the report and our review with the public. DEQ is currently reviewing the Cooper report. Our goal is to have the review completed by the end of June, however staffing limitations may require more time.
3. You asked for a DEQ response regarding the feasibility of the requests made in the petition. We are entering contact information from the petition signers into a spreadsheet to compile an interested persons mailing list. When a formal response to the petition is developed, all persons on this mailing list will be notified. The response to specific requests will take some time to develop and will be folded into the renewal process of the ESCO permit (See Item #5). We are discussing the details of the petition amongst a variety of technical staff and policy analysts within DEQ. Much more information needs to be compiled before DEQ can state its position with respect to specific requests. Be assured that DEQ is committed to exploring all of the requests in the petition.
In the meantime, to improve communication with the neighborhood, DEQ is developing a new website that will be a clearinghouse of information regarding air quality in Northwest Portland. This web page will include ESCO-related public documents, progress on the ESCO permit renewal process, the Cooper report and review, a schedule of public meetings, monitoring and computer modeling information specific to NW Portland, progress of the Portland Air Toxics Solutions project, and any other information that is pertinent. Our goal is to have this website live by the middle of July, and it will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.
DEQ plans to schedule public meetings on specific topics. We have received survey responses (the green sheets handed out at the meeting) that show broad interest in the following topics: Air Pollution 101, Air Permitting 101, Air Toxics 101, compliance and inspections, and odors and nuisance. We do not have a fixed schedule for these activities yet, but are looking forward to working with you on dates and locations for these meetings.
4. You asked for a timeline for the drafting of the ESCO permit and public hearings. The timeline for permit drafting is not set in stone; DEQ’s process for drafting a Title V permit can take several months. Drafting the renewal for ESCO, or any other facility, consists of a detailed technical review and assessment. Some preliminary work has already begun to organize some of the broader issues within the permit, but the actual work of renewing the permit has not yet begun. We will start this process in July, at which time the permit writer may develop a better estimate of how long his review will take and an anticipated timeline for a draft permit. We will keep you apprised of our progress during this lengthy process.
5. You noted that neighbors expected to participate in drafting the permit. While we plan to hold neighborhood meetings throughout this process to inform neighbors and get your feedback, DEQ alone is responsible for drafting the permit. We will consider all issues raised in public meetings and invite public comment on the permit once drafted. We will modify the draft permit, as appropriate, based on the comments received during the formal public comment period.
Again, I thank you for your concerns regarding these issues. I agree that the next step should be to set up a meeting with you and key DEQ staff. Can you propose a few dates for the first half of July that we can use as a starting point?
NWR AQ Manager
Hope everyone’s summer is off to a good start.