Hayden Island residents meet over air quality concerns - KPTV - FOX 12

Hayden Island residents meet over air quality concerns

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People living on Hayden Island in North Portland are concerned about air quality, after they say toxic emissions are coming from a nearby oil recycling plant. 

However, the president and founder of that company said his company is doing nothing wrong.

The issue first surfaced last summer, when neighbors like Steve and Mary Lou Putman started to notice a strange smell that would often waft over their home.

“We kept noticing that in the middle of the night we’d wake up with horrendous headaches, sinus problems, respiratory [issues],” Mary Lou Putman said. 

The Putman’s believe the odor is linked to toxic emissions, a byproduct of the work being done at American Petroleum Environmental Services, across the river from their home.

They say the plant falls into the same regulatory loophole as the glass factories in Portland that are now under so much scrutiny.

“All these polluters are getting away with murder, and the DEQ is allowing it.  And so is the legislature, and so is the EQC,” Putman said.  “There’s a huge amount of grief, there’s a huge amount of anger, and we’re stunned that the authorities have allowed this to go on.”

They say they’re working with a petroleum engineer who has been inside the plant, who has provided proof of permit violations and operational concerns.  They presented his findings as part of a 38-page packet they call the “smoking gun” to a DEQ representative at a community meeting Thursday.

“They’re burning the wrong kinds of fuel, they’re not testing, they’re not record-keeping.  The list goes on,” attorney Cecilia Young said of the engineer’s findings.

But Mike Mazza, the president and founder of APES says none of it is true.

“According to OSHA and according to EPA, no we are not [violating our permit],” Mazza told Fox 12.  “That’s totally incorrect and totally a misunderstanding of the law and one of the things that frustrates me the most.

Mazza says various inspectors from OSHA, the EPA and others have been to his plant for unannounced visits and audits.  He says they’ve even put air quality monitors on employees, but have found nothing.

The Oregon DEQ says it’s working to get more information, and that partners like the EPA are working to gather and analyze data surrounding the issue.

A forum will be held with neighbors like the Putman’s once that data is available.

“It’s always good to hear the community is interested and involved in an issue,” DEQ representative Cheryl Grabham said of Thursday’s community meeting.  “I was able to hear a number of concerns and I will take those back to our team.”

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