Public comment for DEQ changes ends Wednesday

DEQ hearing public comments on temporary rule changes to air quality

Inside Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland, Feb. 16, 2016 (KOIN)
Inside Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland, Feb. 16, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Wednesday is the last day the Department of Environmental Quality will hear public comments about proposed rule changes for air quality measures in Portland.

The proposed rules will limit heavy metal emissions at local glass factories. DEQ officials were previously criticized for acting too quickly when they first introduced the temporary rule changes 2 weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Bullseye Glass says the new rules could cripple its business.

Under the changes, glass companies like Bullseye must continue to exclude trivalent chromium in production until results from an in-depth stack test come back. But that could take months, and the metal accounts for about half of Bullseye’s business.

But the company says trivalent chromium isn’t the problem. The DEQ is reportedly concerned trivalent chromium will turn hexavalent, which would be a health risk.

Bullseye is currently installing filtration systems. The company says there is no scientific evidence supporting the DEQ’s claims that trivalent chromium turns hexavalent in the kind of production that happens at its Portland factory.

The proposed changes could cost Bullseye millions in sales over the next 4-5 months, according to a company representative. Bullseye called the temporary rule change rushed, sloppy and based more on politics than public interest.

That’s part of the reason the DEQ set up a website for more public input.

It will take the DEQ 3 weeks to consider the suggestions. The department says it will look for items submitted online that best serve all parties involved in the situation.

Meanwhile, the Portland City Council heard from people on Wednesday — some who live near Bullseye — asking for help from local lawmakers.

“This is not the Portland I thought I knew,” Sarah Livingstone said. “I feel like we have all been betrayed… the beautiful green city that we all love is not so green.”

Paul Van Orden, a former environmental regulator in New Jersey, said Oregon is at least 30 years behind in identifying and managing hazardous air pollutants.

Mayor Charlie Hales said, if a regulatory program needs to be formed locally, it will take more coordinating with other agencies.

The DEQ’s next meeting is scheduled for April 20.

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