By Garlynn Woodsong Chair, CNA LUTC
Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA) recently expressed its concerns to Gov. Kate Brown regarding toxic air emissions from oil recycling operations near the Expo Center.
Emissions from two facilities – American Petroleum Environmental Services (APES) and Oil Re-Refining Co. (ORRCO) – are hazardous to human health, according to a June 27 feature in the Portland Tribune.
CNA requested the governor halt the operations of both facilities immediately.
Although recycling used motor oil is a worthy cause, operation of an industrial facility for this purpose cannot come at the expense of public health – regardless of its positive economic impact. Businesses and jobs are replaceable. Human lives are not.
According to the Tribune, a draft permit is currently under review for APES that may allow the emission into the local air shed of as many as 11 pollutants that could cause cancer: arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and possibly hexavalent chromium.
The draft permit apparently would allow burning of waste oil containing small amounts of chromium, arsenic, lead, cadmium, PCBs, and a category of chlorinated chemicals known as halogens. Burned together, PCBs and halogens produce a catalytic reaction that potentially results in the release of dioxin (and/or dioxin-like compounds), PCBs and benzene. According to a source quoted by the Tribune, “A peanut butter jar full of dioxin would be enough to kill the entire planet.”
Further, the draft permit would apparently allow the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) at more than 10 times the typical concentration emitted by oil refineries across the country. It would also allow the release of up to 255 grams of chromium per year, of which roughly half is estimated to be in the form of hexavalent chromium.
The California Air Resources Board calculates that annual release of 2 grams of that can cause an extra 10 cancers per million people over 70 years. The 125-plus grams of hexavalent chromium the permit would allow – multiplied by the permit’s five years – would result in the emission of up to 625 grams, which could result in more than 3,125 additional cases of cancer here over 70 years. This is from the operations at just one of these two facilities.
CNA has urged the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deny this permit until such time as the applicants develop operations plans and air quality controls to ensure there is absolutely no potential for ill-health-related side effects.
To guarantee this outcome, CNA demands that no permit be issued until an independent investigation into emissions from APES is completed, the results are analyzed, and an analysis is shared with the community.
CNA requested the governor to:
- Issue an immediate cease and desist order for both APES and ORRCO
- Require DEQ not to issue a permit until an independent investigation of emissions has occurred • Initiate an independent investigation of Oregon’s DEQ to determine
- Why DEQ is allowing dioxin and hexavalent chromium to be emitted into a residential area
- Who was responsible for allowing the removal of the thermal oxidizers in 2006
- Require DEQ to issue a citation for the past 11 years of violations related to operations without valid permits The CNA Board of Directors takes this matter very seriously.
It will continue to work with other neighborhoods and community organizations to protect the health of this community.