Neighbors bristle at North Portland air quality meeting - KPTV - FOX 12

Neighbors bristle at North Portland air quality meeting

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Hayden Island area residents who met with state and federal agencies Monday to discuss the results of recent air quality monitoring around two petroleum recyclers walked away largely unsatisfied.

Monitoring by the EPA near the plants found no poisonous or life-threatening levels of air pollutants, even though residents complained about noxious fumes and respiratory problems.

“You’re gasping, you’re wheezing, you’re coughing. You’ve got a headache that’s at the temples and the back of your neck.  You can taste it in your mouth,” said Steve Putnam, who lives on Jantzen Beach.

Anthony Barber, who heads up operations for the EPA in Oregon said the air monitoring, which was done around the clock for two months, did find seven days in which there were elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, which is listed by the agency as a toxic gas.

“Hydrogen sulfide at that level can cause the sorts of things that people have been complaining about,” said Barber.

Still, Barber said, the EPA doesn’t consider the levels and immediate health threat, although the agency does plan to take a closer look at potential long-term health effects. 

Several neighbors voiced disapproval throughout the course of the meeting, questioning the agency’s methods of sampling the air and its commitment to making improvements to air quality.

“I want to know not only what’s going to be done to monitor it, but what’s going to be done to stop it.  Because it’s unconscionable,” said Pam Holt, a Hayden Island resident.

Barber said both petroleum recyclers passed their most recent inspections, which were completed last fall.

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