Letter from the Chair: Call to Action

As we return from summer vacations or hanging out in the park, beach or backyard, to the routines of our lives and responsibilities, I want to focus on the appalling condition of the air we breathe here in Portland, and more specifically in Eliot.

You’ll read in Greg Bouchet’s article, on the cover page of this issue, that Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel pollution. We breathe air with significantly higher concentrations of diesel particulates than 99% of other communities in America. Not a good statistic and very bad for our health. In fact, this is potentially life-threatening. “Diesel exhaust is 100 times more toxic than gasoline engine exhaust,” according to a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. “Diesel exhaust is 80%-95% ultra-fine particles of carbon ‘soot’ with cancer-causing chemical riders that evade our natural defenses, reach the lungs, pass into the blood-stream, and circulate to our vital organs including the heart and brain.”

This past August, Oregon’s Legislature passed HB 2007 to limit the diesel particulates emitted from diesel engines, but not until 2029. Do we want to continue to breathe this bad air for another 10 years, while the polluters figure out how to comply? Or more realistically, until the economic impact is lessened by the attrition of dirty diesel trucks and construction engines?

The Volkswagen settlement money ($50,000,000) and the money from the Legislature (also millions of dollars) are available to businesses NOW for filtering these dirty engines. Why can’t the cleanup begin NOW?

Eliot Neighborhood Association is joining local neighborhood and advocacy group efforts to take action. For this effort, we need committed people of any skill level. We are looking for residents or anyone working in Eliot. Our Board needs you to help us form a strong, inclusive, passionate team to advocate for stronger, sooner regulations. Also we need to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT, which is available for small under-represented trucking owners. Eliot Neighborhood Association has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. If you want to join us contact me at chair@eliotneighborhood.org

Eliot Neighborhood Association’s Eliot Advocacy for Clean Air Team, eACT, needs YOU!

The Eliot Neighborhood Association general meeting on October 21 will host Portland Clean Air. Come hear more about this problem, weigh in with your thoughts and find out how you can help make the air we breathe cleaner and less dangerous.

Also, at the October meeting, we will hold the annual elections of board members for the 2020 term. We hope to see you there and that you consider signing up to help with eACT or becoming a board member or simply get involved with other neighborhood association activities and events.

Support Portland Clean Air and Breathe Easier in the Future

By Greg Bourget

Diesel particulate is the worst airborne carcinogen according to State of California risk assessments. In Portland it comes primarily from industrial unfiltered trucks making in-city deliveries. Currently Portland is ranked in the worst 1.3% of counties in the nation for airborne diesel particulate according to the most recent EPA three-year assessment. Airborne diesel particulate affects the Eliot Neighborhood more than most Portland neighborhoods. California banned unfiltered diesel trucks statewide and by 2015 there were virtually none left. Diesel particulate filters remove 90% of diesel particulate emissions. In contrast, three-quarters of the trucks in the three-county Portland area have no filter according to ODOT and DMV records. The in-city stretch of I5, including the part that runs through Eliot neighborhood, has the 24-hour highest truck counts in Portland according to ODOT monitoring studies.

DEQ reported diesel-powered vehicles are only 6% of Oregon vehicles on the road yet emit 60 – 70% of all particulate emissions from all on-road vehicles combined. The State of California reported that currently diesel particulate is still “responsible for about 70% of California’s estimated known cancer risk attributable to toxic air contaminants.” DEQ reported in 2015 that diesel exhaust causes lung and bladder cancer, certain heart attacks and other blood clotting diseases, coronary artery disease, malignant childhood brain tumors, decreased cognitive functioning, increased incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), acute bronchitis, and asthma. A study by Bishop et al. found diesel particulate causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Immediate symptoms include eye and throat irritation, coughing and phlegm, swollen airway, bronchial irritation, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Portland Clean Air believes negotiation with unfiltered trucking companies is the solution. The Oregon diesel bill HB 2007 which passed June 30, 2019, was gutted by industry. It allows a ten-year phase-out. California did a seven-year phase-out starting nine years ago! Numerous loopholes allow trucking companies to avoid even that deadline. The Oregon legislature accepts unlimited corporate campaign donations. This is illegal in 45 states. Since we can’t count on the Oregon Legislature, neighbors have been directly negotiating with industrial polluters instead. Since the
Bullseye scandal, eight Portland area industries have installed a smokestack scrubber at a cost of $70 K to $20 M due solely to
negotiations with neighbors.

Judging by model year, XPO Logistics has 8,604 unfiltered trucks – by far the largest unfiltered truck fleet in the Portland area. XPO Logistics, Consolidated Freightways, and USF Reddaway combined have 12,036 unfiltered trucks – more than TriMet and the next largest 24 unfiltered Portland area fleets combined. As the state of Oregon barely regulates them, I think they require a response from us, their neighbors.

Portland Clean Air is working with 41 Portland Neighborhood Association boards, the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods, and 24 Portland-area churches and synagogues to address this airborne diesel particulate through negotiation with unfiltered industrial truck fleets. We are also looking at companies who contract with these unfiltered fleets.

Portland Clean Air appreciates the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) who has taken a leadership role to address this with us. ENA has formed a committee to take action. If you have questions about how you can help with this committee, or about monitoring, home air filters, or any other questions, please contact me at greg@portlandcleanair.org or for more information go to portlandcleanair.org/ diesel.

Come hear a presentation by Portland Clean Air at the Eliot
Neighborhood Association general assembly meeting on Monday, October 21 at 6:30pm at St Philip the Deacon Church, 120 NE Knott St (the corner of Knott and Rodney).

Letter from the Chair – A Call to Action

Hello Neighbors,

Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel particulate pollution. This is due partly to our proximity to I-5 and I-84, but also to MLK, which is a truck route, and the N Williams/N Vancouver corridor. All these roads carry dirty diesel trucks every day. Oregon allows unfiltered diesel trucks on our roads. This is dangerous for us because the National Institute of Health says “the health effects of diesel exhaust emissions… acute effects of diesel exhaust exposure include irritation of the nose and eyes, lung function changes, respiratory changes, headache, fatigue, and nausea. Chronic exposures are associated with cough, sputum production, and lung function decrements.” And… “Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic, respiratory ill health with symptoms including coughing and feeling breathless. At worst, if people are exposed to diesel engine exhaust fumes regularly and over a long period, there is an increased risk of getting lung cancer.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11401072/

Since Eliot has LONG been affected by diesel AND has tried several times to get legislation or regulation on pollution, long term neighbors wonder what’s different this time.

Well, a few factors have changed. The Oregon Legislature is finally taking up this issue this term. Our neighbors to the east have all converged to focus the legislature’s attention because of new data from the lichen study, PSU scientists, the ODOT I-5 expansion proposal, the Willamette Superfund recent movement toward resolution, the Volkswagen settlement and, yes, opening of Harriett Tubman Middle School. See HB 2007 “The Diesel Bill”.  

(https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1dBPerjxQcmUHVpZXk1UXFUemsycEFnV3dIZmMwcEpob0dR)

The Eliot Neighborhood Association is joining local neighborhood and advocacy group efforts to take action. For this effort, we need committed people of any skill level. We are looking for residents or anyone working in Eliot.  Our Board needs you to help us form a strong, inclusive, passionate team to advocate for stronger, sooner regulations, and also to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT funds, which are available for small under-represented trucking owners. ENA has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. This Team will meet the 2nd or 3rd week of July. If you want to join us contact me at chair at eliotneighborhood dot org

See Environmental Advocacy for Clean-Air Team: Eliot eACT. 

Please Celebrate Clean Air Work With Us

Please Celebrate Clean Air Work With Us!
Thursday, April 4th, 6 to 9pm, Lagunitas Taproom, 237 NE Broadway

Raise your glass, raise your voice, raise money, for clean air. Join Neighbors for Clean Air to learn more about our work to clear the
air in Oregon and how you can get involved.

Event space and beer fueled by Lagunitas Brewing Company, featuring music by Asheigh Flynn.

For tickets and more information: Liz Hartge with Neighbors for Clean Air

LUTC Meeting Minutes 2019-03-11

Minutes submitted by Allan Rudwick.  A bit of stream-of-consciousness note taking since the meeting was a lengthy discussion.

About 20 people were in attendance.

Presenters: Doug Siu (ODOT), Stacey Thomas (ODOT Consultant HDR), Aaron Brown (No More Freeways PDX)

From Committee: Brad Baker, Allan Rudwick, Jonathan Konkol

7:05 Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion + Questions 

Decades of planning – state has tried multiple times to widen this part of I-5.  The presenters claim it was built too small originally and especially with I-405 going in it became a problem.
They mentioned the 2010-12 planning workshops which Eliot NA was a stakeholder to.  Allan mentioned that Eliot attended all meetings and voted no
If built (they use language that implies it is guaranteed). There will be a 4 year construction window, with phases so not all roads will be closed at all times.
There are 3 major highways connecting in the area.  I5 and 84 were built in the 60s, I-405 early 70s.
In 1987, the ‘Greeley-Banfield’ proposal would have further decimated the city grid.
A modified greeley-banfield proposal existed from 1990-96 and was abandoned due to public pressure.
In 2007, ODOT commissioned a design workshop.  In the 2010-12 timeframe “70 designs” were considered. (Editorial- Allan submitted at least 6 of these with MS Paint).
The presentation uses the word “Improvements” many many times. However just because something is changing doesn’t make it an improvement.  (Editorial- Allan thinks this word should be used more carefully.)

Public comment: “Isn’t this project a continuation of i5 cutting through neighborhood” and not a healing in any way.  Public comment is cut down- only constructive comments and clarifications to the presentation will be encouraged until later.

Currently: Heavily used area by all modes of traffic.

New structures will be “Seismically resilient” although current ones are not near the top of the list of risks.
Highway covers will provide more space for bicycles and pedestrians

This project is projected to save 2.5 million hours of travel annually within project constraints area. Details in traffic operations section of EA documents.
“Vision zero” project will improve safety for all modes through the area.
Hancock Dixon overpass will change the way streets are connected and remove the Flint overpass.
Video shown with a “Drivers view” of the area.
Freeway lids: Why the hole in the cover? Ventilation and emergency access. This is still the overview phase.  “A lot of design to get to still.” (Editorial: often the design phase public is told that the project is already past the point where we can make changes.)
Pollution is going to be “the same” with giant lid and ventilation – just possibly shifted a few feet based on where gaps in the lids are. If we had a “tunnel air wouldn’t be filtered just moved outside the tunnel.
New construction would be to a 9.2 earthquake standard or better.
Most pollution is from Diesel pre-2008 trucks.
Owner of trucking company below Bridges on attendance
On the lids: we can have trees, parks. “Anything we want”
Buildings on them versus what type of buildings? Possibly we could have a 1-2 story building but probably not a 6-story one.  Possibly 3-story in some spots
Can’t dig out i5 due to disruption to traffic.
Lots of non local traffic on the freeway. Need access control to keep people safe. Buildings need access.
Certain properties affected by this project. Block by block impacts are different.
Ownership model… ODOT would let city of Portland own & manage buildings if they were built on top.
All of this is to say that “green space” is most likely. Specifically “Parks” surrounded by lots of polluted air.
ODOT and City worked together on process – this was “not an ODOT managed process [in 2010-12]”
Public Comments: Air quality modeling. Tubman students not supposed to go outside currently.  Will this be worse with this project?
Noise concerns – this will make things louder for us.
Brilliant ideas wanted for how to use LIDs
Caps for construction staging – Doug said this was not true, there are cheaper ways to do staging. This is different than what other project staff have told us in the past
Public Comment: Other Freeway caps: Seattle freeway park? LID i5 group working on it currently.
What assumptions are made about Regional VMT with and without project? Consultant will get back to us.
Environmental phase over a year. 1000+ comments
How do we see this as different? Goal is to not displace unlike previous versions. Findings are of “no significant impact” – this is a leagal term.
Jobs: Investment in small businesses to work on project. Construction and design firms.
Auxillary lanes – pitched as a net win.  They have been successful along 217 and I-5.
Economic benefits to area? No Cost Benefit Analysis has been done.
This is a National Environmental Project Assesment (NEPA). Needed for federal matching funding.
Currently they are defining scope, design criteria
Public Question: Does the “No build” traffic modeling include other freeway projects. Answer: Master model that includes lots of other regional freeway projects. Some trends included, some not. Tolling not included.
Air quality and noise, environmental Justice
Project area, each category gets its own area

Problems trying to solve:
405 SB to 84, many vehicles getting on i5 just to go 1 exit
Project will be fairly neutral for travel times on local streets. Some slightly faster, slower. Report is blaming bicyclists for traffic slow down due to new signal phasing.
Neighborhood. Are speeds being lowered for safety or anything? A road diet on N Wheeler proposed near the Moda center.
There are no projections with congestion pricing modelled.
They are “separate projects”. This doesn’t factor that in to that one.

Public comment: No build scenario… Is there a seismic upgrade?
Consultant: Paralyzes whole state if any link goes down?
Public comment: Amazed by Thompson water issues, dirt seems to be unstable under columns of I-5 north of project area by Thompson.
Project is trying to create space for pedestrians and cyclists on each block
No additional transit with this project
Project was coupled with North-Northeast quadrant plan. Supposedly integrated with city’s plans
Public concern: Ramps steeper than standards. Why are we putting in. When it’s not an improvement. Short answer is output of previous planning. 9% due to existing grade. Can’t give final grade but aware of grade challenges
MUP is to fix grade challenges
Air quality trends… Are the blue lines matching current data? National graph shows improvement but local may not
Difference is so small not to be an impact to human health. Slightly shorter distance. Benefit? Shouldn’t consider as benefit
Benefits exist outside of project
Hoping for existing regulations to help pollution
Which freeways did we should we locally look too show this is a good idea
Local projects 217 to 205
Capital highway to 217 i5 South
Seen operational improvements exceeding expectations for aux lane projects
Neighborhood effect? Threshold for human health?
Construction vehicles, dust control.
During construction, traffic down Flint. Flint causing pedestrians to get hit already. Traffic volumes measured at wrong time? Chaos in front of Tubman
A lot of potential traffic in front of school
$12M on air quality at Tubman already
“Traffic management plan and control plan”
In talks with PPS
Goal of project, taking traffic away from Flint
Portland versus ODOT. City supposedly at table
Why should these kids beat burden if i5 construction
Do boosters of project want their kids at Tubman? Guessing their kids aren’t going to Tubman. There’s going to be an impact, we need to mitigate

When we get to next phase, everyone gets to put in their comments. Conversations are active with PPS
A long time to work this out

“Not acceptable to send that volume through a school zone”
Next phase is design if all goes well.

No more freeways presentation
Dozens of buttons tomorrow
$500 m
4 major platforms
Air quality
Induced demand
Environmental Justice
Worst census tract for air quality
Climate change

Driving is too energy intensive
Invest in transit
40% emissions in Oregon for transportation
We need to drive less
Safety
No traffic fatalities in a decade
ODOT owns much more dangerous facilities
No datasets included in EA document. Response from ODOT: will Fulfill request. We’re  already 23 days in. [since this meeting, documents came out]
FHWA said they would prefer the numbers not be released. Don’t want to release information that is modifiable. Trying to get to this quickly. EA provides methodology and outputs.

What is the Delta VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled projection)? Information to be sent to us.
Harriet Tubman PTA in opposition
PPS had over promised and under delivered on Tubman so they are swamped with other efforts.

Comments now make a difference. Eliot has posted ways to comment online.
Comments affect legal standing to sue in the future.

Public Comment: Pastor lunch that ODOT talked to – Had no more freeways talked to them? They are just a small group of volunteers but they would talk to if we connected them.
Other freeway widening projects increasing VMT in state. Goal needs to be VMT reduction for Climate reasons.

Does ODOT have prioritization of non car modes? They look for opportunities. Most things are affecting city jurisdiction. Need to make improvements. What kinds of things would help that are under ODOT’s jurisdiction? We have issues in transportation planning with solos. Funding streams. Colors of money make it hard to spend on transit.

ODOT can prioritize non car

If no more freeways is successful, what’s next
Ultimately personal opinion swaying. Idea of auxiliary lane seems different than through lanes

NMF: Within Urban growth boundary, shouldn’t widen anything before congestion pricing

Would you call a plumber to fix a leak or buy a new $500 Million sink first? No congestion pricing in model is fatal flaw to this project- should do congestion project first.

We have to stop motordom. It’s so nice to be outside of a car.

Freeway industrial complex is benefitting from this project

Motion to approve Minutes: Approved 3-0

Motion: Write another letter regarding I-5 Project (still in opposition)

Portland Neighbors Addressing Diesel Pollution

The stretch of I5 interstate highway running through the Eliot Neighborhood was measured by ODOT using a rubber strip sensor to be among the busiest truck routes in Oregon. This is due to in-city short-haul trucks that pace back and forth through Eliot making Portland freight deliveries. Our research into ODOT and DMV data found 75% of these in-city short-haul trucks are unfiltered. Unfiltered trucks are illegal to manufacture and are banned from all of California because they produce ten times as much diesel particulate as a filtered truck.

Continue reading Portland Neighbors Addressing Diesel Pollution

Air Pollution Report from NECN

Diesel Particulate Map
Diesel Particulate Map

Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) has put together an Air Toxics Report.  Please follow the link below for the North/Northeast Portland’s Air Pollution Report. You will find a map and narrative with facts about industrial facilities and diesel truck pollution. Learn what we can do to improve air quality!

Continue reading Air Pollution Report from NECN

Uroboros Air Quality Assessment

Air quality issues hit home in Eliot through the news in early February, through a shocking revelation that Uroboros Glass, located on Kirby Ave, was burning cadmium and had been for years to make art glass in Eliot. The irony of the matter was that it was moss in the nearby trees that had helped Forest Service researchers find the Uroboros site’s pollution, not the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). That agency soon revealed that cadmium burning, now indicated in two glass factories including Bullseye in SE, have a monthly average of 49 times the state’s established air safety benchmark level for cadmium and 159 times the safe level for arsenic. Cadmium and arsenic are both known carcinogens connected to serious health effects.

Continue reading Uroboros Air Quality Assessment

Uroboros Linked to Unsafe Levels of Cadmium

Cadmium Concentrations
Cadmium Concentrations February 2016

Portland’s air pollution problem was brought to our attention in January 2016, when the Portland Mercury broke a story, exposing elevated cadmium and arsenic in several areas of our city. Days later, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the regulatory body responsible for air safety, announced their data indicated a monthly average of 49 times the state’s established air-safety benchmark level for cadmium and 159 times the benchmark for the arsenic. Cadmium and arsenic are both known carcinogens, connected with serious health effects, like cancer, respiratory problems, and organ damage.

Continue reading Uroboros Linked to Unsafe Levels of Cadmium