Air Quality At The Dalles City Council Meeting

The Dalles City Council met last night with few items on the agenda, but the items were meaty. One of those items was an update on Amerities from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. It was somewhat less than some in the audience expected, given the past controversy over emissions from the Amerities plant in The Dalles and the health effects on some local people. Greg Svelund of the Bend DEQ office explained that following the discovery of toxic emissions at Bullseye Glass in Portland in 2016, that DEQ was not aware of, Oregon governor Kate Brown ordered DEQ and the Oregon Health Authority to design a new program called Cleaner Air Oregon. Keith Johnson, head of the program said after two years of planning with stakeholders, and obtaining emission reports from industries throughout the state, the program debuted this March. Of the 350 companies that DEQ wanted to bring in to the program, they started with 9 companies. One of them was Amerities. Johnson outline the basics

Keith Johnson of DEQ

Johnson said companies could be required to install controls, operate differently or use different products. Failure to do so could involve penalties. One aspect concerned several people in the audience is that under this program, the companies themselves do the risk analyses which they said gave people a fox-guarding-the-henhouse feel.

Amerities was asked for its list of emissions in March and had until June to respond. DEQ said there were some gaps in that initial report and the company was asked to provide additional information, which they did. That report is still being analyzed by DEQ and Johnson said that assessment should be completed in the coming year. At this rate, it’s going to take a long time to get around to all 350 companies.

The other major item on the agenda was a presentation by City Planning Director Steve Harris, the result of a visioning process for downtown. More on that tomorrow.

One item of immediate interest was announced during the audience participation section of the meeting by John Warren, head of The Dalles Main Street Program

John Warren – The Dalles Main Street Program

Since that was recorded at last night’s meeting, the meeting he mentioned is tonight at 5:30 at Columbia Bank on 3rd Street in The Dalles.