Portland, OR—Results from activity-based sampling conducted throughout the week of May 21 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) show “no detections” or concentrations below action levels of airborne-asbestos fibers released from the May 14 River Street fire. As such, no special precautions need to be taken by Portland residents to safeguard their health.
Sampling was performed at Lownsdale Square in southwest Portland and Waterfront Park in northeast Portland, two areas impacted by debris from the fire. Activity-based sampling measures the potential maximum exposure residents could have to asbestos released during the fire by mimicking outdoor work typically performed by residents—including raking, mowing, and sweeping.
The activity-based sampling results are consistent with air sampling results taken earlier during the week of May 21 at 13 monitors throughout the investigation area that found either no asbestos or concentrations of asbestos far below action levels.
Additionally, cleanup crews worked over the Memorial Day weekend to identify and remove asbestos-containing debris from building rooftops throughout city. While more rooftops are planned to be cleaned this week, all publicly-accessible areas in the investigation area were cleaned up and safe for use as of Thursday, May 25. On Saturday, May 27, crews sprayed remaining debris at the fire site with an adhesive that prevents debris from being blown-off site. Additionally, as an additional safety precaution, a large debris boom is planned to be placed in the river in front of the site by May 31.
DEQ and EPA's emergency response effort is in the final phases of completion and is focused on the recovery of asbestos containing materials from rooftops. Future activities will focus efforts on planning for the removal of debris from the fire site. Cleanup crews will work to develop a final cleanup plan to safely remove debris from the fire site through the week of May 30. Once initiated, the removal of fire debris is anticipated to take approximately three months.
Since operations began, crews have cleaned-up 1,244 areas throughout Portland with asbestos-contaminated debris and 244 pounds of contaminated material.
Public Safety Tips:
• Do not touch, pick up, move or vacuum any debris that may have come from the fire. Asbestos-containing debris will look like ash or paper, and crumbles into fibers easily.
• If you find any of this debris, do not touch it and please call 503-229-6488. Leave a message with: your name and phone number, address or location where you saw the debris, and what the debris looks like. Cleanup team members will contact you with more information.
To view interactive maps, photos, and video of the cleanup response, visit: http://arcg.is/2r1F40V
For additional incident response updates visit:
Matthew Van Sickle, Public Information Officer, DEQ, 971-284-7693, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Yogi, Public Information Officer, EPA, 415-760-5419, email@example.com