EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

The U.S. Forest Service has released the data that kicked off concerns about Oregons system of monitoring air quality and air toxics in Portland. Hundreds of readings gathered all around the city are expressed on an interactive map that shows readings taken in 2013. The study examined mosses growing at more than 300 spots in Portland. The foresters then studied 22 elements the moss contained, including six metals that could damage human health. Research forester Demetrios Gatziolis says while...

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will take 30 years and around $746 million to clean up a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River known as the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. The area from the Broadway Bridge to the Columbia Slough is highly contaminated from more than a century of industrial use. After 16 years of study, the EPA finally has a plan for how to clean it all up. It starts with seven years of "construction" that includes dredging and covering more than 200 acres...

The Bend Parks and Recreation Board has passed a memorandum of understanding about the future of Mirror Pond under new, potential private ownership of the Mirror Pond dam. The non-binding MOU outlines future collaboration between the district and Mirror Pond Solutions, a corporation owned by local developer Bill Smith and construction company owner Todd Taylor. Mirror Pond Solutions wants to lead negotiations with Pacific Power, owner and operator of Mirror Pond dam, and explore purchasing...

Railroad industry experts are questioning the early explanation from Union Pacific for why its oil train crashed in Mosier, Ore. Union Pacific said the preliminary indications from its investigation are the failure of a fastener that connects the rail to the railroad tie, according Justin Jacobs, a railroad spokesman. The 96-car Union Pacific train was carrying Bakken crude oil to a refinery in Tacoma, Wash., when it had an undesired emergency application of its brakes. Sixteen tanker cars...

Union Pacific confirmed Tuesday it wont be sending trains of crude oil through Mosier, Ore., until derailed cars there are cleared, the crash has been investigated and the town has adequate notice. On Monday, a Union Pacific spokeswoman said the lack of oil trains through Mosier was simply the result of railroad scheduling, not a railroad decision to halt shipments through the town. "We don't run very many crude oil trains through here," she said. "Again, remember crude oil is 1 percent of...

For weeks, DEQ and Bullseye Glass have been negotiating over whether the company should be allowed to resume using heavy metals while DEQ crafts rules for the art glass industry. Late Monday, the two sides announced a deal . OPB's April Baer sat down with DEQ's Keith Johnson to find out more about the major points. April Baer: What does this agreement accomplish in terms of DEQs monitoring, and Bullseyes hope to continue production? Keith Johnson: The agreement provides a lot of certainty....

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has lifted a cease and desist order against Southeast Portlands Bullseye Glass. The company had been ordered last month to stop using several toxic metals in furnaces without filters after lead emissions were detected at a day care near the art glass maker. Bullseye signed an agreement with DEQ on Monday that will allow it to resume using some metals if the state agency first approves those uses. "The agreement, drawing on current regulations as...

The black Union Pacific oil cars that derailed Friday in the Columbia River Gorge are lined up next to the tracks that cut through Mosier, like oversized, crumpled beer cans discarded with little regard. Crews spent Monday continuing their cleanup efforts, pumping crude oil out of the derailed cars into tanker trucks that drove the oil away from the scene. Around mid-morning, officials turned their efforts to newly discovered oil in a pipe leading from Mosiers water treatment plant to the...

Firefighters have contained a 21,000 acre fire near the Idaho border. A lightning storm sparked the blaze, called the Owyhee Canyon fire, Sunday night. A Bureau of Land Management spokesman said the fire grew more than 10,000 acres Monday morning. But he added that the fire is in a remote area and no homes are in direct danger. The northwestern perimeter of the fire is approximately 1.5 miles south of Rome, Oregon. Crews will remain in the area to make sure the fire is contained and mop up...

Union Pacific began running trains Sunday past the site of an oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge. Local officials in Mosier, the site of Fridays oil train derailment, said they counted five trains moving through town Sunday night. The Washington Department of Ecology indicated Monday that crews found more spilled oil in a pipe near the town's waste water treatment facility. Crews have already removed about 10,000 gallons of oil and water from the treatment facility. Officials...

Elevated lead levels in water at the Multnomah Arts Center were detected over the course of three years in 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to new information from Portland Parks & Recreation released Sunday. It wasnt immediately clear why the test results came to light, years after the testing occurred. PP&R officials said the water fountains have been turned off at the arts center. I am sorry that Portland Parks & Recreation did not notify the Commissioner in Charge or the MAC community of...

Jim Appleton, the fire chief in Mosier, Ore., said in the past, hes tried to reassure his town that the Union Pacific Railroad has a great safety record and that rail accidents are rare. He's changed his mind. After a long night working with hazardous material teams and firefighters from across the Northwest to extinguish a fire that started when a train carrying Bakken crude derailed in his town, Appleton no longer believes shipping oil by rail is safe. "I hope that this becomes death knell...

This week, parents upset about lead in school water fountains have called for Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith to resign. But federal, state and city officials have known for years that schools and homes in the Portland area are at risk for lead above federal drinking water standards. Taps in Portland and the several metro area water districts that buy its water have been found to have too much lead on 10 different occasions since the federal agency began enforcing the...

Many Oregon school districts are acknowledging they havent tested their water for lead, but they are announcing plans to do so. State lawmakers appear ready to mandate such testing in the future. You mightve first heard about lead in drinking water from Flint, Michigan. And locally, you probably heard about problems in Portland schools. But there were similar levels in Salem and at a middle school in Beaverton. We actually had a student ask when was the last time you had the drinking...

Washington state officials are holding a public hearing Friday in Vancouver on new rules targeting oil train safety. One proposed rule would require trains carrying refined or crude oil to submit spill response plans that the state would approve. Another proposed rule would make oil terminals and refineries alert the state that they plan to receive crude oil. Right now, companies that move oil by rail arent required to share that information with state officials. The Washington Department of...

Even though the Portland Public Schools District continues to tackle revelations of lead in drinking water at several schools , another concerning toxin has emerged: radon. Results from radon testing in school buildings released late Wednesday show classrooms across the district have elevated levels of the radioactive gas. In a memo sent to school board members and Superintendent Carole Smith , facilities manager David Hobbs said results from testing initiated in March came in Wednesday. "We...

For years, Multnomah County has been warning people about lead contamination in the home from paint dust to pottery. Its also warned about water, but with the caveat that lead in the water is not a common source of poisoning. News that 47 Portland School District buildings have shown elevated lead levels in the water in recent years has some experts re-examining that stance. County lead expert Perry Cabot said of 188 lead investigations done countywide in the last three years, the...

A new report finds an oil tanker grounding on the Columbia River could cost more than $170 million dollars in damages. Estimates show the oil tanker could spill 8 million gallons of Bakken crude oil. The report commissioned by the Washington Attorney General's Office looks at possible accident scenarios linked to the proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. We concluded that oil spilled near Vancouver would reach Longview (approximately 40 miles downstream) in one day, then travel...

Peter and Pam Hayes's claim about herbicide exposure in the forest of the Oregon Coast Range begins the same way as most from the news in recent years. On May 17, they and two others were out tending their property. They heard a helicopter in the distance and thought little of it. Then, they say, they began to smell and taste chemicals. The helicopter was not over me. It was not droplets. It was just a super strong, strong taste," Pam said. Both are familiar with the idea of aerial spraying....

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife drew hard questions from conservationists Thursday night in Portland as it sought comment on its latest budget proposal. In a stuffy hotel conference room over the hum of a projector, ODFW Director Curt Melcher explained the agency's current budget situation, how a new task force had been established to seek new revenue sources and that no major changes were planned for any of the agency's programs. Changes, however, are precisely what many...

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