As reported here previously, Boeing Aircraft has asked Oregon’s DEQ to give it permission to dump 99 tons of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds = hazardous waste) into the airshed of Northeast Portland. From April through October, neighborhoods like Concordia, Cully, Woodlawn, and Vernon are directly in the line of prevailing winds that come from the two huge hangars located on Cornfoot Road in the Columbia Slough, where Boeing’s planes are painted.
About 35 neighbors, primarily from Concordia and Cully neighborhoods, all concerned that what looked like a good move for Boeing might not automatically be good for nearby residential livability and health, crowded a first public hearing in September. Their questions and challenges prevented a quick rubber stamp approval of the permit, and sent both DEQ and Boeing back to their drawing boards.
More public meetings are planned, but those same concerned residents met recently to plan strategies on how laymen with limited resources and experience can challenge a major international corporation with billion dollar profits. Political pressure through our elected officials and local institutions might work. Volunteers going door-to-door might be worthwhile. Challenging Boeing to present studies and information on the effects of the hazardous emissions on public health might be productive. Solutions will take a lot of volunteer work; a lot of Davids are needed to confront one Goliath, a Goliath with unlimited financial resources and paid staff.
What do these residents want? First, for DEQ to deny the permit. Boeing already dumps 39 tons of VOCs on us, and with additional hazardous waste produced by our close-in highways, trains, airport, and the industries along the Columbia Corridor, we are already heavily saturated. Second, if the permit is granted, they want Boeing to install the best available control technologies (called BACTs) to capture 100% of the emissions. Boeing claims that the technology is not required by Oregon and is too expensive, but other states require it, and other similar industries meet those standards now. It comes down to what value Boeing is willing to place on our lives.
Interested in being part of this process? Contact Robin Denburg at NECN: 503-823-4135; firstname.lastname@example.org. Let him know if you want to get involved now. Also plan to come to our next major working/planning session on Wednesday, November 7 at 7 P.M. at NECN in the King School building on NE 7th Avenue. Help convince Boeing to be a good neighbor.