Oregon approves new temporary air quality regulations - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon approves new temporary air quality regulations

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Oregon officials hope that new temporary rules approved Thursday will protect Portlanders from breathing toxic heavy metals used in glass making. (KPTV) Oregon officials hope that new temporary rules approved Thursday will protect Portlanders from breathing toxic heavy metals used in glass making. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Protecting Portlanders from breathing toxic heavy metals is the aim of new temporary rules approved by state officials Thursday.

There is still a lot of concern regarding the air pollution scare in Portland and how the companies involved are moving forward.

Bullseye Glass is one of the companies at the center of it all, and in a hallway of the Oregon Convention Center, Amy Bacher demanded answers from the company's owner.

Bacher is a mother whose her son goes to daycare right next to Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland.

In October of 2015 elevated levels of the arsenic and cadmium were detected in the air surrounding Bullseye, as well as Uroboros Glass in north Portland.

Both companies voluntarily stopped using the chemicals, and the levels have dropped back into a safe range.

Bacher fears, though, that Bullseye is now taking a step backwards.

“I just wanted to ask some basic questions,” she said. “They started using cadmium again on Monday without DEQ checking their filtration system, so that was a surprise to me as a parent.”

Thursday the Department of Environmental Quality presented a temporary set of rules to limit emissions from these Portland glass companies, and the Environmental Quality Commission passed the rules.

Abe Fleischman, owner of Northstar Glassworks, supports the new regulation and wants to see even more done.

“In this setting, knowing the glass companies are under the microscope, we should just take this time now,” he said. “The cost of these filtration systems is not that much, we should put a cap on it, really.”

The Oregon Health Authority notes the current regulations limit emissions, but do not cap the total amount of contaminants a facility may release.

Mary Peveto with the group neighbor for clean air wants to see the people's health placed before business interests.

“It still feels like our state is much more comfortable with leaving uncertainty in the public health realm and whether or not we will be safe, and much less comfortable about uncertainty of businesses that are regulated by the state,” she said. “And that is fundamentally what has to change.”

These temporary rules will expire after 180 days. The DEQ will begin to develop permanent rules and are seeking more public input.

Statewide public hearings will be held starting this fall, and a new website, CleanerAirOregon.org, has been created where Oregonians can share their comments.

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