Monitoring continues to show elevated hexavalent chromium in SE Portland air even though Bullseye has been prohibited from using chromium since June 6
Portland, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is requiring Bullseye Glass Co. to clean its exhaust stacks and remove a build-up of chromium that new data suggest is likely contributing to the metal's persistence in the air in southeast Portland.
DEQ also is addressing other possible sources of the elevated hexavalent chromium detected by air monitors since March, such as reducing dust at a nearby cement company.
“We're concerned about the persistence of elevated levels of chromium,” said Pete Shepherd, interim DEQ director. “We are making every effort to bring those levels down.”
DEQ is requiring these clean-up efforts as the Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory overhaul moves forward. Oregon Governor Kate Brown launched Cleaner Air Oregon to better incorporate health-based standards into the state's industrial air toxics regulations, and enable DEQ to use those standards in its permitting and enforcement actions.
DEQ sets deadline for stack cleanout
Under a new directive, DEQ will require Bullseye to complete the stack cleanout by Sept. 1, 2016. The deadline follows new findings that show nearly all chromium Bullseye emitted during the melting process converts to hexavalent chromium. The cleanout is required by the June 6 Mutual Agreement and Final Order (MAO) (http://www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/docs/metalsem/bullseyeMAOsigned.pdf) between Bullseye and DEQ.
Currently, Bullseye Glass is not authorized to use chromium in any furnace, regardless of whether the furnace is equipped with a baghouse filter. In addition, Bullseye is not authorized to use arsenic, cadmium or lead in any uncontrolled furnaces.
Dave Farrer, an OHA toxicologist, said the additional steps DEQ is taking at Bullseye will lower potential health risks.
"From a health perspective, we're concerned about the levels of hexavalent chromium in the air in southeast Portland,” Farrer said. “We know current concentrations don't pose an immediate health risk. However, we're still studying what the long-term effects may be. That's why we want to do what we can to reduce exposure.”
Tests confirm particulate control and chromium conversion
DEQ has also completed its review of test data for the baghouse control device at Bullseye glass. Test results show the device is efficient in controlling more than 99 percent of particulate emissions.
Tests also found that the vast majority (more than 98 percent) of chromium emitted from the furnace during Bullseye's glass melting process is converted to hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium exposure is linked to respiratory problems and cancer in people. The test report is posted on the Cleaner Air Oregon website.
Keith Johnson, DEQ air program manager said: “Because these results are specific to Bullseye, we can't assume we would get the same results at other facilities. However, the restrictions we've put in place to control Bullseye's emissions are designed to protect the public from hexavalent chromium and other metals going forward.”
Reducing chromium emissions from cement manufacturing
DEQ is working with the Lehigh Cement Co. to improve the company's dust-capturing efforts when unloading cement from railcars. Lehigh's facility is located near the air monitors in southeast Portland, and while it is not required to have an air permit, DEQ suspects the cement dust may be a contributing hexavalent chromium source.
Other actions DEQ has taken to identify sources of hexavalent chromium in the air in southeast Portland include:
• Reviewing permit files and city tax maps as well on-site tours followed by three formal inspections.
• Examining multiple mobile sources of hexavalent chromium in the area, including a busy rail yard, high-traffic roads, a TriMet bus barn, and several trucking dispatch yards.
For additional information, please visit http://www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/docs/metalsem/Bulls... http://www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/bullseye.htm
Weekly air monitoring data are reported each week by the interagency group that includes DEQ and OHA, and published at http://SaferAir.Oregon.gov.
For information about the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative to align industrial air toxics regulations with human health, visit http://CleanerAir.Oregon.gov.
• Jennifer Flynt, 503-730-5924, Flynt.Jennifer@deq.state.or.us
• Tony Andersen, OHA, 971-239-6483, PHD.Communications@state.or.us