July 2017 Monitoring Update
In July 2017, DEQ began another round of air quality monitoring related to AmeriTies in The Dalles. The agency is monitoring for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, at three of the same locations DEQ sampled in 2016 for naphthalene and other air pollutants.
This monitoring effort will last 60 days and DEQ will issue a report on the data after it goes through a quality assurance and quality control process.
DEQ will share the collected data with local, state and federal health partners and with the public. The data will be used to inform a health consultation, which is being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Oregon Health Authority.
DEQ installed a full toxics monitor in The Dalles in July 2017 to collect data not only on PAHs but also particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals. The station is part of a statewide network of air monitoring sites used to assess air toxics. The data is used to assess statewide priorities for pollution reduction strategies, and track progress in meeting pollution reduction goals. However, this monitor will also inform understanding of local air quality issues.
Health Consultation Update
ATSDR and OHA are preparing a Health Consultation related to naphthalene in The Dalles. Health Consultations compare the amounts of chemicals measured in the environment to concentrations that are unlikely to cause harmful health effects in people. ATSDR will base its Health Consultation for AmeriTies on data collected before December 2016, which is when AmeriTies began using a different wood preservative with lower levels of naphthalene.
March 21 public meeting
DEQ held a public meeting Tuesday, March 21, 2017 to discuss results of monitoring data. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also attended to discuss health impacts of the data and the process for the health consultation currently underway for The Dalles.
AmeriTies begins using new wood preservative with less naphthalene
AmeriTies began using a wood preservative with less naphthalene in early December 2016. The preservative contains less than half of the naphthalene as the preservative that was previously used. The change to a new formula was one of the strategies the company agreed to in the enforceable agreement to reduce odors associated with the facility.
Update on measures in the enforceable agreement
One odor reduction measure in the enforceable agreement requires AmeriTies to try alternative solutions to its wood-treatment preservative, including mixtures that contain less naphthalene.
DEQ was with AmeriTies operators on Tuesday, June 21 when the company treated ties with three alternative preservatives.
DEQ is evaluating the odor reduction potential of the solutions and determining whether any of the three are viable alternatives. This determination includes an analysis of each of the preservatives. DEQ will continue to provide updates on this requirement.
DEQ held a public information meeting and open house May 17, 2016 to discuss the enforceable agreement signed with AmeriTies to reduce odors. During that meeting, DEQ answered many questions about the agreement, odors, health implications, monitoring and other questions related to AmeriTies. DEQ has since amended Table 1 of the agreement.
DEQ provided questions and answers on AmeriTies at the May 17 meeting.
The Oregon Health Authority has created a Question and Answer sheet specifically related to health questions surrounding AmeriTies, odors and naphthalene.
Air Quality monitoring in The Dalles
What do the results mean?
DEQ has created a summary of the results as well as Questions and Answers On Initial Monitoring Results for naphthalene and poloycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) near AmeriTies in The Dalles.
DEQ will begin a 90-day air quality monitoring program in June 2016 in The Dalles to measure pollutants that are likely associated with tie-treatment plant facilities, including naphthalene, which is a polyaromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH. DEQ will also collect wind speed and wind direction data in the area to help determine the source of any pollutants.
DEQ selected monitoring locations based on meteorological data, known emission points from AmeriTies and the locations of odor complaints. Information from the monitoring will be used to determine next steps that may include additional monitors or continued monitoring.
The objective is to determine if emissions associated with AmeriTies exceed human health-risk based concentrations. DEQ will make the data publicly available on Cleaner Air Oregon. DEQ expects to release data in batches as it becomes available, meaning some sampling results will be made available before the end of the 90-day monitoring program.
The Odor Nuisance Program
After receiving a sufficient number of complaints, DEQ initiated the Odor Nuisance Strategy with Amerities-West. DEQ is currently conducting the odor investigation and has completed eight odor surveys in various locations around The Dalles.
As work on the strategy and odor investigation continues, DEQ encourages residents to continue providing information via the odor complaints form. DEQ uses this information to learn more about the odors, including the strength and location during various times of year and times of day.
DEQ will periodically update this site as it implements the Odor Nuisance Strategy.
The tie treatment plant has been operating in The Dalles since 1922. DEQ issued the first air quality permit for the plant in 1977. Kerr-McGee Corp. (KMC) operated the plant from 1987 through 2004. Amenities West, LLC is the current owner.
When KMC took over the operations it made several improvements at the plant that reduced emissions and the number of complaints decreased dramatically. However, during the permit renewal process in 2002, DEQ received numerous comments about odors and other issues. The permit was issued as proposed, but DEQ committed to work with the concerned citizens and KMC to try and resolve the issues.
A workgroup was formed consisting of concerned citizens, DEQ, and plant personnel and met for the first time in July 2002. Many concerns were brought to the table and discussed at the first meeting. Due to limited resources many of the things people wanted done (e.g., health effects study, ambient monitoring program, immediate installation of capture and control systems, etc.) were beyond the scope of the work group. The workgroup decided to concentrate on collecting information that would be useful to the plant for identifying the root cause of the odors. With this information, the plant could possibly make changes to their operations or identify areas that need additional control to abate the odors. To this end, the workgroup agreed to coordinate a series of odor surveys.
The workgroup conducted a series of informal odor surveys between Nov. 2002 and Aug. 2004 to gather information about the frequency and strength of the odors. The surveys were initially mailed or delivered to those that attended the public hearing and those that lived near the plant. The surveys were also announced in the local paper. Those who participated in the surveys recorded several odor events ranging from mild to extremely unpleasant. An attempt was made to correlate the odor events with plant activities, but there was no consistent pattern. It appeared that the odor events were more likely to occur based on the weather conditions. In general, most of the odor events occurred on warm days when there was a light breeze.
The previous owner formed a Quality Action Team (QAT) to evaluate odor causing activities and make recommendations for improvements to reduce odors. Several improvements were implemented that may have reduced odors. An odor questionnaire was mailed to all residences in The Dalles in early Sept. 2005 and a Town Hall meeting was held on Sept. 14, 2005. Of the 8,757 surveys mailed, the DEQ received 724 and 288 of the respondents clearly identified the tie treatment plant as a source of odors.