GNA? Thanks…but NO thanks!

Pardon my skepticism, but entertaining the idea of a Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) with oil re-refineries APES or ORRCO makes me cough, wheeze, and gives me a headache… A so-called GNA is NOT in our best interest.

Here’s why not: GNA’s aren’t truly enforceable. If, for example, APES or ORRCO, violated a GNA agreement, it would be up to us, the neighborhood, to take them to court for relief…which begs the real question: Who bears the burden of protecting communities?*( see link below) With a GNA challenge, WE, the people, would have to bear the economic burden in the process directly- – by hiring an attorney to negotiate, and indirectly,  by loss of personal time and loss of income…and, worth mentioning too, impacts on property values along with problematic real estate disclosure issues.

Most citizens of Hayden Island, Bridgeton, Kenton, St Johns, and surrounding north harbor communities are not air toxic chemical specialists, nor should we have to be. Without knowing exactly what we are being forced to breathe, we should not be expected to bear the burden and negotiate about their poisonous off-gasses and heavy metal particulates. This is NOT about odors–the acrid, choking distinctive odor that hangs over us when the wind is headed our way. ORRCO knows it. APES knows it. We know it. And the DEQ and the EPA knows it, too. That’s why ORRCO and APES are under investigation.

We have just received word that Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, is trying to help ORRCO find out about the process to negotiate a Good Neighbor Agreement with Hayden Island, even CCing one of the owners of ORRCO in the email.

Speaker Kotek knows that there is a big, ongoing investigation by the EPA and DEQ. Because of the many different toxics present in the tank loads of used oil that the re-refiners process, the DEQ and EPA do not yet know what is actually being emitted. Therefore, “it is premature to consider a Good Neighbor Agreement between Hayden Island and ORRCO or APES.”

Related info: ORRCO is now subject to more restrictions because they are not in compliance with their permit and do not have proper permits. Perhaps they perceive that a GNA could allow loopholes and avoid specific enforcement and compliance? It’s happened before.* ( see link below)

In any event, we know that speaker Kotek is listening and trying to help by using the tools available to her. The problem is that band-aid solutions like GNAs are part of the same old broken processes that are part of the old guard DEQ way of doing things. There’s a reason Governor Brown introduced a new program — and that is because the old ways put an unfair burden on citizens and do not hold polluters accountable for their actions. Ultimately, I’m sorry to say that this approach does a great disservice to her constituents, to Portland and to all of Oregon by getting in the middle of the investigation and encouraging a GNA. This is simply not a good idea and sets a bad precedent towards cleaning up the air in Oregon in general.

What can you do right now?

Let Tina Kotek know we DO want ORRCO and APES to be required by law to use best available emission control technology AND be required to process their used oil with a CLEAN source of fuel. Ph: 503-286-0558.

And continue your alerts to DEQ Louis Bivins: 503-229-6333.

*Oregon Good Neighbor Agreement review




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