Cleaner Air Oregon team celebrates significant milestone

The Cleaner Air Oregon team is celebrating a significant milestone as companies that were among the first to be subject to the program are wrapping up the risk assessment and permitting processes.

Although some new facilities have been granted permits under the program, this is the first time that those that were already established are hitting the CAO finish line.

In 2018, the Environmental Quality Commission adopted rules establishing Cleaner Air Oregon, designed to evaluate and address public health risks from industrial air toxics emissions. Program requirements apply to all new stationary sources of air pollution, and to existing facilities based on a “call-in” schedule. DEQ prioritized existing industrial facilities for review based on the potential risk at each facility and their proximity to sensitive populations.

Packaging Corporation of America in Salem is the first existing facility to have completed the risk assessment and have their permit modified to incorporate Cleaner Air Oregon conditions. Originally called into CAO in late 2020, the facility was able to demonstrate risk from their emissions to be insignificant after substituting a glue they use in the manufacturing of cardboard products with a less toxic substance.

“This is a great outcome for the facility and for public health,” says Kenzie Billings, one of the first staff hired to kickstart the program. Billings managed this (and many other) facilities called in.

Kenzie Billings hiking and staying hydrated in the great outdoors with her furry friend Charlie.

“It hasn’t quite settled in that some of these facilities’ risk assessments and CAO permitting processes are wrapping up, “Kenzie says. “I’m excited to start working with other facilities on our prioritization list!”

DEQ gives kudos to Kenzie for her attention to detail, patience and persistence in seeing this effort through.

The program continues to welcome new members to the team and in the coming months will finalize permit modifications and conditions at several other existing facilities, including: Roseburg Forest Products in Medford, Collins Pine in Lakeview, Owens-Brockway in Portland, and Oil Re-Refining Company in Klamath Falls. The program has also worked with dozens of new businesses in the last several years to successfully navigate the risk assessment process. Exciting times are ahead for Cleaner Air Oregon.

–Matt Davis, Cleaner Air Oregon Manager

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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