Crag Law Center led a diverse coalition of eleven environmental and social justice groups, who submitted comments on a proposed temporary rule that would regulate emissions of air toxics from colored glass manufacturing facilities.   The temporary rule was proposed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the comments were submitted to the Environmental Quality Commission.   The comments were submitted on behalf of Crag Law Center, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Neighbors for Clean Air, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Eastside Portland Air Coalition, Coalition for Communities of Color, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Verde, Beyond Toxics, and Portland African American Leadership Forum.

The proposed temporary rules result from the recent air toxics crisis in Portland.  The Forest Service utilized moss samples to record concentrations of heavy metals in the air in Southeast Portland.  Follow-up testing by DEQ confirmed that data and linked the high concentrations of toxic pollution to a colored art glass manufacturer – Bullseye Glass.  A comprehensive and chronological list of media stories is available on EPAC’s website.

While Bullseye in Southeast Portland and Uroboros in North Portland agreed voluntarily to stop using arsenic, cadmium and chromium at their facilities, DEQ moved to implement a temporary rule under existing statutory authorities that would require the installation of basic emissions controls.

Unfortunately, the rules are too weak and full of loopholes for industry.  The diverse coalition that submitted comments today called on the EQC to adopt a more protective rule that would:

  1. Close loopholes that would allow for emissions of heavy metals from uncontrolled furnaces;
  2. Apply state-wide;
  3. Apply to all glass manufacturers;
  4. Apply to all heavy metals; and
  5. Would ensure public notice and comment instead of locking the public out of DEQ decisions.

The EQC will be considering  the draft temporary rules at its meeting at DEQ Headquaters in downtown Portland on April 20, 2016.   The meeting will be open to the public.  More information on the EQC’s upcoming meeting will be posted here.

The comments area available here.

Crag also prepared stronger set of temporary rules for consideration by EQC.  Those are available here.