Oregon’s Air Quality: DEQ Seeks Public Input

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is aiming to improve our air quality with a rulemaking effort known as Cleaner Air Oregon. Said effort has a public commenting period ending on Monday January 22 at 4 p.m. This period has just been extended to allow the public  to make a comprehensive review of the proposed rules, which will affect our health and limit industrial emissions.

Most agree the rules are an improvement, but some are concerned they do not go far enough. For instance, the DEQ has no plans to address traffic and shipping emissions, burning off natural gas, or for monitoring large trucking firms. Others have pointed out that the DEQ is too underfunded to take on their proposed commitments. This is reflected in their plan of taking five years to process the first 80 sites – at that rate it will take over 156 years to process all 2,500 sites.

The most sketchy aspect of their plan is to allow businesses to self-report emissions… even though they pinky swear they won’t lie.

This impacts Corvallis directly because of the Hollingsworth and Vose manufacturing plants on Crystal Lake Dr. Known for making glass fiber, filtration materials, and other industrial media both plants release particulate matter into the air. Similarly, both plants have a neat filtration system.

The problem is that under the new rules, these plants can average their emissions together when reporting. This is misleading to the DEQ and to the public. One plant releases matter one to three microns in size, the other releases matter over 12 microns in size, but the filters only capture matter over 3 microns. By averaging the size of emissions together, it would appear that the filters are actually capable of scrubbing emissions from both plants.

In reality, the small particulate matter capable of making it through the filters is also able to find its way into your bloodstream. That is one very real and close to home reason to check out Cleanerair.oregon.gov and give the DEQ a piece of your mind. 

By Anthony Vitale