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20 Air Polluters Selected For Review Under 'Cleaner Air Oregon' Program

Twenty companies in Oregon could find themselves facing new limits on air pollution after this year.

The state Department of Environmental Quality on Friday released a list of the first phase of companies it is targeting for in-depth reviews under Cleaner Air Oregon, the state’s new program regulating toxic air emissions.

DEQ will analyze each of these 20 companies to determine whether emissions from their facilities pose a risk to human health, and whether the agency needs to revise their air quality permit.

These reviews mark the first concrete step under the program toward limiting air pollution.

“We’re very happy that Cleaner Air Oregon is moving from a hypothetical into a real one, where we’re talking about real facilities,” DEQ Director Richard Whitman said.

DEQ has identified more than 350 facilities for these reviews. The agency hopes to complete around 20 per year. These first 20 facilities were chosen based on several screening factors, including the estimated volume of emissions and the proximity to people and vulnerable populations. Some, such as Precision Castparts Corp. in Portland, have already been the subject of lawsuits and complaints from neighbors.

First Group Of Companies

AmeriTies West, LLC (The Dalles)

Boise Packaging & Newsprint, L.L.C. (Salem)

Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, Inc. (McMinnville)

Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest, Inc. (Arlington)

Collins Pine Company (Lakeview)

Columbia Steel Casting Co Inc. (Portland)

Covanta Marion, Inc. (Brooks)

Eagle Foundry Co. (Eagle Creek)

Ecolube Recovery LLC (Portland)

Entek International LLC (Lebanon)

Georgia-Pacific Toledo LLC (Toledo)

Hollingsworth & Vose Fiber Company (Corvallis)

Oil Re-Refining Company (Klamath Falls)

Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc. (Portland)

PCC Structurals, Inc. (Portland)

PCC Structurals, Inc. (Clackamas)

Roseburg Forest Products Co (Medford)

Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc. (Portland)

Stimson Lumber Company (Gaston)

Wolf Steel Foundry, Inc. (Hubbard)

“This is an important step in closing gaps in Oregon’s air quality programs,” Whitman said, “so that we know what air toxics emissions are and are not occurring, and if there are health risks being created that we can take steps to resolve that.”

Roseburg Forest Products is among the companies in the first wave of reviews. Ellen Porter, the company’s environmental director, said the company has been preparing for it, including its own review of emissions from its facility in Medford. She said the process alone would be expensive, more so if new limits are placed on the company’s permit.

Read more: DEQ's list of first-phase companies targeted for review under Cleaner Air Oregon

“I think it’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to be complicated. But I’m not worried about going through the process,” she said. “I don’t believe our facilities are posing a high health risk to neighboring populations.”

Several of the companies included in the list could not be reached for comment. Some, such as the trash-to-energy business Covanta Marion Inc. in Brooks, said they welcomed the review.

“For more than 30 years, the Marion County Energy-from-Waste facility has provided sustainable solid waste management services that have reduced greenhouses gases while operating well below allowable emissions limits that have demonstrated protection of human health and the environment,” spokesman James F. Regan said.

The head of Columbia Steel said in a statement that her company “is happy to be among the first grouping” of businesses reviewed under the Cleaner Air Oregon program.

“We have always been in compliance with DEQ air standards and are interested in seeing how we measure up under the Cleaner Air Oregon rules,” the statement quoted Martha Cox, CEO Columbia Steel, as saying.

DEQ’s Whitman said some of the companies in review may not require additional limits in their air quality permit, and that the threat alone of new regulations prompted others to implement new equipment to cut emissions.

For companies that are posing a risk to human health, Whitman said he would expect to see changes in their permits within the year.

New facilities wanting to operate in Oregon are now required identify potential sources of toxic emissions and evaluate human health impacts before applying for permits.

In the works since 2016, Cleaner Air Oregon was a program championed by Gov. Kate Brown after  public outcry over hotspots of heavy metals detected in the air in Portland.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting