A right to know

What are your local polluters putting into the air, water and soil around your homes, schools, parks, the places where you live and work? You have the right to know. The right to know what hazardous chemicals we are being exposed to is a fundamental principal of environmental justice and a central tenet of the Precautionary Principle ("transparency is mandatory"). Knowledge is the beginning of empowerment and the backbone of sound policymaking. Citizens have the right to know what is in the air we are breathing, the water we rely on, and the soil that sustains us ...

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Public Comment: Characteristics of the Next DEQ Director

Madame Chair, Commissioners: my name is Frank Peters; thank you for this opportunity for Public Comment. Like everyone here today, I have given much thought to the characteristics of the next DEQ Director, as that person will shape the agency, for better or for worse. Because many others will speak so articulately, I cannot offer a better description of what a new Director should be. My suggestion is for a different approach altogether. Bear with me as I point out your short-term dilemma: in only a few months this agency will submit budgets to the Legislature. ...

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A Plea for Health-Based Standards

It was early September 2001 and a younger version of myself had just moved to Portland. My oldest sister, who had lived here for a few years already, found us a cute 2-bedroom apartment in SE. It was a scary and exciting time; I was fresh out of my parents' house, on my own – I loved my city! Over the years Portland changed a great deal and myself along with it. I moved out of the apartment with my sister and experienced several other neighborhoods. I started making friends who were interested in the same stuff I was – I started to feel a real sense of community. I ...

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Should I stay or should I go?

Full of contradictory emotions while getting my daughter ready to go to a school filled with asbestos, lead, not yet earthquake proof, and a current construction site. Her high school sits on land across the street from Bullseye Glass, a polluter that has spewed unregulated (by my definition) toxic emissions for 46 years, including off the charts hexavalent chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead. We live half a mile from Bullseye. And my daughter’s schools, both primary and secondary, have been even closer. This is the air she has breathed her entire life. Industry abounds ...

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It didn’t have to be this way, Bullseye

Bullseye Glass in SE Portland
I want Bullseye employees, glass enthusiasts, and business owners in the community to understand that it didn’t have to be like this. When I first met with neighbors in that apartment building community room back in February, I don’t remember a single one saying that they wanted Bullseye to go; and it wasn't just lax regulations, but also a series of horrible choices on the part of the Bullseye owners that brought us to the point that we’re at now. I was looking through old messages and emails a couple of weeks ago and found some vaguely distraught communications ...

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Did Bullseye Cause My Illness?

Can we eat the vegetables from our gardens?
I lived on 53rd Street, about one block North of Powell for about 12 years. I got a home in 1978 and I was there until 1991. I had a garden there. I tried to grow things organically. I thought the garden was going to be good for my health. I did not realize that poisonous gases were in the air that I breathed and also went into the soil where I was growing the food that I ate. The poison went into the vegetables I was eating. I believe that is what happened. In 2001 I tested positive for Arsenic. I could not figure out where the poisoning was coming from. ...

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We Knew Something Was Wrong

Cadmium hot spots
I’m Mary Lou Putman and I live in North Portland. I have a question for Multnomah County, but first I need to say that my heart goes out for families ALL over Portland who have been affected by toxic air. It’s a tragedy. And it’s especially sad because the community knew something was wrong, complained and were ignored by regulators. That’s just wrong. It’s even more disheartening because my community in North Portland has been complaining to any authority who would listen – including the DEQ and OHA, about the unfiltered, unscrubbed off-gassing from ...

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Who is Responsible?

artwork
A few people have asked me to write down some thoughts about the conversations we've been having with glass company employees. The main thing I want to say is that we are in the midst of a lot of legitimate anger, but we have to be careful not to let it spill out onto the wrong people, including each other. Both the DEQ and individual polluters like Bullseye and Uroboros have the power to radically reduce the air toxics we are exposed to (as we can see with the decision to suspend cadmium, arsenic, and chromium), and we need to keep pressure on both. This is not ...

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