Gov. Brown: State, federal regulatory programs on air toxins are - KPTV - FOX 12

Gov. Brown: State, federal regulatory programs on air toxins are 'clearly inadequate'

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Uroboros Glass (KPTV file image) Uroboros Glass (KPTV file image)
Bullseye Glass Co. (KPTV file image) Bullseye Glass Co. (KPTV file image)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said current federal and regulatory programs for air toxins are "clearly inadequate" after reports of high levels of cadmium and arsenic in southeast Portland.

On Friday, the Department of Environmental Quality said two Portland glass companies – Bullseye Glass Co. in southeast Portland and Uroboros Glass in north Portland – agreed to voluntarily suspend the use of chromium and cadmium in their manufacturing processes. Bullseye also agreed to stop using arsenic, which Uroboros does not use.

"While I am relieved to know that specific steps have been taken to address the immediate risks to the public in terms of air quality, it is also important to take actions to address other potential routes of exposure to people in these communities," Brown said in a statement Monday.

The other proposed actions by Brown include the Oregon Health Authority establishing an incident command structure and joint information center with DEQ and Multnomah County, "to respond to information as it is learned and to ensure coordination between efforts at the state and local level."

Brown also proposes establishing a hotline to provide health information to the public, making resources like urine testing available to healthcare providers, expanding soil testing in southeast and north Portland and creating greater partnerships between involved agencies for research purposes and making information available to the public.

While Brown said she will continue to monitor the situation daily, she said the events of the past two weeks have "made it clear that there is a larger and broader issue regarding the emission of air toxics."

"Current federal and state regulatory programs are clearly inadequate to assure the public that their health is being protected," she said.

Earlier this month, DEQ reported that results from testing last fall showed high levels of cadmium and arsenic in the area of Southeast 22nd and Powell Boulevard near the Bullseye Glass facility. DEQ identified Bullseye as the source of the metals in the moss and the air.

While Bullseye agreed to suspend the use of cadmium and arsenic, the company issued a statement Friday calling DEQ's actions "frantic" and said the agency has shown an, "inability to provide any direct evidence that Bullseye was a significant source of chromium. In fact, DEQ’s own monitoring data from October 2015 showed peak levels of chromium on days when Bullseye’s factory was idle."

Brown is asking for the assistance of the federal government, other states, Oregon's research institutions and the public to develop a more open, comprehensive and science-based approach to this issue.

"I am directing DEQ and the Environmental Quality Commission to take rapid action under existing statutory authority to begin this work, but I also expect that this effort will result in additional requests to our Oregon Legislature as well as the federal government," she said.

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