PP&R: Lead KOs drinking water at Multnomah Arts Center

Multnomah Arts Center had elevated readings in 2013

The Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy, as seen on Google Street View June 5, 2016
The Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy, as seen on Google Street View June 5, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three Portland park centers deemed “priority sites” will have their drinking water tested for lead following the recent identification of a spot with elevated levels of the metal.

The move comes after elevated lead levels were detected in drinking water at some Portland public schools.

Priority sites for testing are the Multnomah Arts Center, the Portland Children’s Museum and the Fulton Community Center, according to Portland Parks & Recreation. Drinking fountains at the Multnomah Arts Center are now out of service and sinks have a “do not drink” sign.

Priority sites:
— Prolonged access by kids, expectant mothers
— Plumbing or updates between 1970-1985
— Any spot with previously high readings

The MAC’s drinking fountains were detected to have elevated lead results in 2013, but PP&R leaders didn’t find out about it until this past Friday, they said. The drinking fountains were either replaced or had filters installed on May 31, and new testing has not yet been completed since.

Additionally, some sinks at the MAC had elevated lead results in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but “some corrective actions” were taken by 2013.

Officials said MAC staff and visitors will be provided with bottled water until the corrections are confirmed.

Drinking fountains are covered at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland, June 5, 2016 (PP&R)
Drinking fountains are covered at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland, June 5, 2016 (PP&R)

At the other 2 sites, there is no historical testing information, officials said, but believe “the risk of potential lead exposure in drinking water at these sites is very low.” They are flushing the site daily while doing testing over the next several weeks.

In a statement, PP&R Director Mike Abbaté said, “I am sorry that Portland Parks & Recreation did not notify the Commissioner in Charge or the MAC community of these test results when they occurred, and that we did not ensure that protocols were in place to ensure immediate and complete remediation.”

He said they will review what happened and put new safety and reporting protocols.

Lead poisoning prevention
Reducing lead exposure

Following the discovery of elevated lead levels in school drinking water, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith announced 2 employees have been placed on paid administrative leave.

US Rep. Earl Blumenauer is disappointed with how PPS handled the situation with parents and the how it handled the results, calling it “not a scene that inspired confidence.”

Drinking fountains are covered at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland, June 5, 2016 (PP&R)
Drinking fountains are covered at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland, June 5, 2016 (PP&R)

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