Cleaner Air Oregon is a health-based air toxics regulatory program that closes gaps in DEQ's existing air permitting program that allowed some facilities to operate legally but still emit pollutants that could increase health risks to neighbors. Facilities are required to report emissions of toxic air contaminants and calculate potential health risks to people nearby. Facilities would have to reduce risk from their emissions of air toxics if the levels exceed health risk benchmarks, called Risk Action Levels.
Larger new facilities applying for an air permit need to identify potential air toxics emissions and assess associated risks before submitting their permit application. Most new facilities applying for coverage under Basic or General Air Contaminant Discharge Permits will not be required to perform assessments at this time.
Existing facilities are not required to perform risk assessments until DEQ notifies them that they are “called in" to the program, unless they are making a major modification to their facility. DEQ will call in existing facilities based on the results of a prioritization process that considered types and amounts of emissions, information about existing controls, the surrounding community and other factors.
History of Cleaner Air Oregon
Governor Kate Brown launched the Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking process in April 2016 after communities around the state raised concerns about their exposure to potentially harmful heavy metals, chemicals and other pollutants from factories and other industrial sources. Oregon's existing rules were based on federal law. These existing rules allowed industrial facilities to release potentially harmful amounts of air toxics, but still operate within legal requirements.
The Environmental Quality Commission adopted Cleaner Air Oregon rules in November 2018 to close the regulatory gaps left after the implementation of federal air toxics regulations. Cleaner Air Oregon is a state health risk-based air toxics regulatory program that adds requirements to DEQ's existing air permitting framework.
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