Programs

AmeriTies West is a railroad tie treatment facility that has operated in The Dalles under various owners since 1922. The facility uses a coal-tar product called creosote to treat wooden railroad ties to make them weather and insect resistant.

DEQ regulates emissions from the facility using the following programs:

  • Air Quality Permit: An enforceable document that implements federal Clean Air Act requirements. It includes emission standards, record keeping requirements, compliance monitoring requirements and reporting requirements.
  • Cleaner Air Oregon: State regulations that focus on short- and long-term health impacts of air toxics. Health-based air toxic limits and monitoring requirements become enforceable conditions in the air quality permit.
  • Nuisance Odor Program: A program that addresses odors from permitted facilities that could be considered a potential nuisance. Under this program, AmeriTies entered into an agreement with DEQ called a Mutual Agreement and Order to reduce odors. These odor strategies become enforceable conditions in the air quality permit.

DEQ Tools for regulation
 

Updates

June 2020

AmeriTies to install new emissions control equipment on retort doors

AmeriTies notified DEQ it plans to install an emissions control device called a thermal oxidizer that will reduce some air pollutants and odors released from its retort doors. The retort is the piece of equipment that pressure treats the wood.

DEQ expects there to be a reduction in emissions and odors coming from this facility once the emissions control device is installed, potentially this fall. There are other sources of emissions at this facility, such as the stacks of railroad ties stored on site. DEQ continues to work with AmeriTies to assess those sources of emissions and determine if any additional actions may be required under the state’s new Cleaner Air Oregon program.

DEQ hosted a virtual community meeting via Zoom on June 23 to discuss the new equipment and provide an update on the Cleaner Air Oregon air toxics assessment.

Read DEQ’s order approving the proposed construction of the thermal oxidizer

​​AmeriTies begins air toxics assessment process

DEQ notified AmeriTies that it was required to submit an air toxics emissions inventory and perform a health risk assessment as part of DEQ's new Cleaner Air Oregon program. Find more information here about the status of the air toxics assessment.  
ATSDR releases health consultation for naphthalene in The Dalles

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, at the request of the Oregon Health Authority, prepared 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 based 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.


Air quality monitoring update

Levels of naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in The Dalles decreased between 2016 and 2017, according to monitoring data and a report by DEQ.

Read the full news release: DEQ releases 2017 air quality monitoring data and report for The Dalles


DEQ releases latest air quality monitoring results for The Dalles

Levels of naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in The Dalles remain below levels that might produce immediate health problems but exceed levels for lifetime exposure, according to data released by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Read the full news release: DEQ releases latest monitoring results 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 began 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 also collected 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.

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.

View a Question and Answer sheet related to AmeriTies.

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.

DEQ releases initial monitoring results for naphthalene in The Dalles

Levels of naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the air near a railroad ties manufacturer in The Dalles are below levels that might produce immediate human health problems, according to data state agencies released Thursday. Oregon Health Authority is not advising that residents take any special health precautions related to these monitoring results.

Read the full news release: DEQ releases initial monitoring results for naphthalene in The Dalles

DEQ and AmeriTies sign enforceable agreement for odor reduction

DEQ signed a voluntary enforcement agreement (a Mutual Agreement and Order) with AmeriTies in 2016 that outlined specific actions the facility would take to reduce odors.

Read the Mutual Agreement and Order and subsequent amendments.

Background on Amerities-West

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. operated the plant from 1987 through 2004. Amenities West LLC is the current owner.

When Kerr-McGee took over the operations in 1987, 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 residents and Kerr-McGee to try and resolve the issues.

A workgroup was formed consisting of concerned residents, DEQ staff, 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 (including a health effects study, ambient monitoring program, immediate installation of capture and control systems, etc.) were beyond the scope of the workgroup. 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 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 DEQ held a public meeting on Sept. 14, 2005. Of the 8,757 surveys mailed, DEQ received 724 and 288 of the respondents clearly identified the tie treatment plant as a source of odors.

DEQ continues working with residents and the tie treatment plant to reduce odors and emissions coming from the facility.