Featured

Updates: Fire at AmeriTies West in The Dalles


This is the most current information about DEQ’s response efforts at AmeriTies West in The Dalles, a railroad tie treatment plant where a fire started in a tank, causing an explosion.

See current update.

QUICK FACTS
Date of incident: March 9, 2023
Location: 100 Tile Plant Road, The Dalles
Product: Diesel sludge and residue
Cause: Under investigation

Status Updates

March 10, 5:30 p.m.

Air quality monitors installed early Friday afternoon are monitoring for particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

People who breathed the smoke from the fire may have experienced coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and/or irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat, according to the Oregon Health Authority. People over 65 and people with pre-existing heart conditions who breathed the smoke may be at increased risk of cardiovascular events for up to 24 hours after the smoke has cleared. Examples of cardiovascular events are coronary syndrome, arrhythmia, heart failure, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. People with asthma or other pre-existing respiratory diseases who breathed the smoke may have experienced worsened symptoms during the smoke event.

Cause of the fire is still under investigation, but emergency responders have learned that vapors inside the tank heated and expanded, causing an explosion inside the tank about 30 minutes after the fire started on Thursday night.

Read the full March 10 news release from DEQ.

The damaged tank at AmeriTies West in The Dalles on March 10, 2023. Photo by DEQ

March 10, 3 p.m.

DEQ and EPA are monitoring air quality at the plant.

The tank normally contains a solution of 99 percent diesel and one percent copper naphthenate. Crews had cleaned the tank of that solution earlier Thursday, though some diesel sludge and sawdust remained in the tank.

Cause of the fire is still being investigated. The Sherriff’s Office reported that the two injured firefighters had been taken to the hospital and were in good condition.

Initial report – March 9, 2023

A fire was reported at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the AmeriTies West wood treatment plant in The Dalles. About a half hour later a tank exploded. DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies are coordinating the response.

Two firefighters were injured when the tank exploded, according to the Wasco County Sherriff’s Office. DEQ reports that the tank underwent a BLEVE, or a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.

DEQ and EPA are installing air quality monitors as a precaution. The facility is a cleanup site with soil and groundwater contamination.

For more information on AmeriTies West in The Dalles visit this DEQ webpage.


Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting but is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Media contact

Greg Svelund, DEQ public information officer, 541-647-4194, greg.svelund@deq.oregon.gov

Featured

DEQ’s Cory-Ann Wind inducted into Clean Cities Hall of Fame

Cory-Ann Wind (second from left)with her Clean Cities Hall of Fame Award presented in February 2023.

We’re thrilled to announce Cory-Ann Wind, manager of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, is the recipient of the 2023 Hall of Fame Award from the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition, a coalition committed to reducing petroleum consumption in the transportation sector through education and outreach.

The award recognizes Wind’s leadership developing and implementing one of the nation’s only clean fuels programs. California has had a similar program for the last 12 years and Washington started a program this year. Wind has worked at DEQ for 29 years, the last 13 overseeing the Clean Fuels Program.

Continue reading “DEQ’s Cory-Ann Wind inducted into Clean Cities Hall of Fame”
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Staff Spotlight on Emil Hnidey, DEQ’s Rulemaking Coordinator 

Emil and his family at Faragut State Park in Athol, Idaho

Emil has been a fixture at DEQ for a few years and helped a lot of our staff and programs through their rulemakings.  

For our readers who might not have had the chance to work with you yet, what does the Rulemaking Coordinator do?  

I coordinate and oversee rulemakings at DEQ to make sure we’re following applicable laws and procedures when adopting rules. 

Continue reading “Staff Spotlight on Emil Hnidey, DEQ’s Rulemaking Coordinator “
Featured

DEQ Lab releases water quality report for northeastern Oregon rivers

A new report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shows water quality results for 17 rivers and streams in northeastern Oregon’s Grande Ronde, John Day, Powder and Walla Walla River basins.

DEQ analyzed the area’s rivers and streams for nearly 500 chemicals and detected 124. Most chemicals DEQ tested for were either not detected at all or were found at low levels.

None of the chemicals were found at levels that would pose an immediate threat to public health. This means the area’s rivers and streams continue to be safe for recreation and other uses. However, the Oregon Health Authority has a statewide fish advisory that recommends people limit how much bass they eat due to mercury levels.

Continue reading “DEQ Lab releases water quality report for northeastern Oregon rivers”
Featured

Klamath Tribes, Chiloquin leaders welcome Eastern Region management team

Chiloquin Mayor Julie Bettles discusses cleanup plans for a collapsed building in the city’s downtown.

“You picked a great day to visit,” said Chiloquin City Councilor Robert Cowie to the group of Eastern Region managers gathered at Chiloquin City Hall on a crisp, clear, sunny February afternoon.

The DEQ team traveled from The Dalles, Bend and Klamath Falls to meet leaders from the Klamath Tribes and City of Chiloquin to discuss local environmental concerns.

Continue reading “Klamath Tribes, Chiloquin leaders welcome Eastern Region management team”
Featured

Rulemaking: From laws to environmental regulation

Bills become laws and state legislators design some Oregon laws to protect the environment. Most people understand that process.

But what about rules that put environmental protection into action? That’s where DEQ comes in through rulemaking. DEQ proposes rules that define how the public and industry interact with the environment in an effort to benefit the economy, human habitation and the preservation of natural areas.

Lauren and Dylan catch up with rulemaking experts at DEQ.

Continue reading “Rulemaking: From laws to environmental regulation”
Featured

Environmental Quality Commission selects Leah Feldon as new DEQ director

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission selected Leah Feldon as the new director of the Department of Environmental Quality at a special meeting on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. The commission’s vote was unanimous. The commission’s decision came after a seven-month nationwide search and included extensive input from the public and DEQ staff.

Continue reading “Environmental Quality Commission selects Leah Feldon as new DEQ director”
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Out of the ashes – EWEB, DEQ join effort to rebuild after Holiday Farm Fire along McKenzie River

Photo provided by EWEB. This photo was taken in May 2021 on an EWEB Commissioners and local leaders tour of the damage of the Holiday Farm Fire. The Holiday Farm Fire destroyed more than 500 homes in the McKenzie River Valley, like this one pictured in May 2021. As the community continues to rebuild, EWEB and Oregon DEQ are eager to support people with funds to repair their septic systems damaged in the fire to alleviate their burdens and protect the water quality of the McKenzie River.

The 2020 Holiday Farm Fire east of Eugene burned 173,000 acres of the McKenzie Watershed, including 25 miles of river frontage. The fire destroyed more than 500 homes and many people are still rebuilding.

Continue reading “Out of the ashes – EWEB, DEQ join effort to rebuild after Holiday Farm Fire along McKenzie River”
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GUEST POST: Why do we encounter poor air quality in winter? LRAPA’s Travis Knudsen explains.

LRAPA Public Affairs Manager Travis Knudsen.

Oregon has some of the most beautiful and pristine skies in the United States. However, we can also experience poor air quality, and not just during wildfire season. In winter months, there are times when DEQ’s Air Quality Index indicates anything from “Moderate” to “Very Unhealthy” air, often due to stagnant air and inversions. Thankfully, these occurrences don’t tend to last very long.

We asked our friend, Travis Knudsen from Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, to write about this. As LRAPA’s public affairs manager and a former broadcast meteorologist, we feel he is exceedingly qualified to discuss these air quality events. His explanation follows:

Continue reading “GUEST POST: Why do we encounter poor air quality in winter? LRAPA’s Travis Knudsen explains.”
Featured

DEQ Laboratory launches survey to prioritize locations for new SensORs™

On Jan. 12, 2023, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality launched a public survey to help its Air Quality Monitoring Team determine and prioritize 20 locations for new SensORs to measure air quality from wildfire smoke across the state. SensORs, which were first developed by DEQ’s Laboratory in 2019, are lower-cost monitors that collect timely particulate matter 2.5 data and display it over DEQ’s Air Quality Index.

Continue reading “DEQ Laboratory launches survey to prioritize locations for new SensORs™”
Featured

Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopts Advanced Clean Car II Rule

The Environmental Quality Commission adopted rules on Dec. 19, 2022, to require all new passenger cars, trucks and SUVs sold in Oregon to be zero emissions by 2035. The commission is the policy and rulemaking board for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 

Continue reading “Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopts Advanced Clean Car II Rule”
Featured

Monsanto to pay state a $698 million lump sum for decades of PCB contamination

Monsanto Company has agreed to pay Oregon $698 million to compensate for decades of contamination with chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The settlement comes after years of work by the state Department of Justice and other state agencies, including DEQ.

Continue reading “Monsanto to pay state a $698 million lump sum for decades of PCB contamination”
Featured

Food Waste Prevention For the Holidays

We waste a lot of food.  To be exact, 2.2 pounds per person per week in Oregon

But did you know that at the holidays, we waste almost 1 pound per person at a single holiday meal (estimated Thanksgiving food waste at ReFED 2022 – The Food Waste Solutions Summit)?  All that wasted food costs you money and has big environmental consequences in greenhouse gas generation, chemical pesticide and fertilizer use, and water and land use.

Continue reading “Food Waste Prevention For the Holidays”
Featured

Preventing food waste while clearing out holiday leftovers

The holiday season may leave you with more food than you know what to do with, but don’t despair. Lauren and Dylan are here to help you prevent food waste while making all those leftovers disappear.

Need more incentive to make food waste prevention not just a holiday tradition, but also a year-round habit? On average, Oregonians lose about $1,600 per year due to food waste. So, reducing the amount of food that you waste could save you some serious money.

Continue reading “Preventing food waste while clearing out holiday leftovers”
Featured

Waterside Moments

Celebrating 50 years of the Clean Water Act; envisioning the next 50

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we asked staff in DEQ’s water quality programs to share images they captured while working, playing or relaxing around water. These images highlight some of Oregon’s extraordinary water resources and the importance of protecting them.

“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart, and head.”

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

DEQ is proud of the work our water quality teams do to ensure these resources remain clean, safe and accessible for the next 50 years.

We’d love to know which photo is your favorite and why. Send a note to: DEQCommunications@deq.oregon.gov

-Jennifer K. Flynt, public affairs specialist

Featured

Cleaning up mercury spills

Mercury is that strange element that looks like a liquid metal bead. Many adults played with it as children. Mercury was used in a bunch of household items – fluorescent bulbs, LCD screens, old appliances, batteries, thermometers and barometers – that are now at risk of spilling.

Lauren and Dylan talk with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Health Authority staff involved in a recent mercury spill in Bend that resulted in damage to the home, cars, furniture and $100,000 in cleanup costs for the homeowners. They help us understand how to respond if mercury does spill in your home to minimize the impact, and then DEQ staff tell us how to safely dispose of any items we own that we know contain mercury.

Continue reading “Cleaning up mercury spills”
Featured

Video – Where the Science Happens

At the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, we take our science seriously – nearly everything we do is backed by data and scientific analysis. Welcome to DEQ’s Lab, where the science happens.

Learn more about DEQ’s Lab on our website.

Video produced by Laura Gleim and Susan C. Mills. Narration by Blair Adams.

Featured

DEQ’s Elaine Blatt wins AOR award for food waste prevention campaign

Sanne Stienstra and Elaine Blatt with DEQ’s Materials Management Program enjoying a moment after Elaine’ s receive the AOR sustainability award.

Elaine Blatt and the Bad Apple Campaign Project Team received an Oregon Sustainability Award at the 2022 Association of Oregon Recyclers Conference this October. To be nominated for this prestigious recognition, individuals or teams must demonstrate a significant or outstanding accomplishment in recycling, waste prevention, reuse, or other sustainable materials management initiatives. Elaine and her team were celebrated for their actions that went above and beyond the normal scope of duties to bring attention to and spur action around the topic of food waste prevention. The environmental impacts of food waste are immense, yet the topic has remained under the radar compared with other issues related to sustainability, from microplastics to common household recycling. Elaine and her team, working with a marketing consulting firm, dreamed up and created a campaign that is at once engaging and informative without the “scolding” that sometimes can be associated with efforts to change environmentally damaging habits.

Continue reading “DEQ’s Elaine Blatt wins AOR award for food waste prevention campaign”
Featured

DEQ receives “big check” to invest in P2 projects and programs

Left to right: Farhad Ghafarzade, Founder of Green Drop Garage; Jennie Romer, EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention; Lisa Cox, DEQ Toxic Reduction Analyst; Brittney Wendell, Associate Director, Pollution Prevention Resource Center

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $350,000 to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to support pollution prevention. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer announced what’s known as “P2” funding this week at an event in Portland, Oregon following a tour of Green Drop Garage, an EcoBiz certified automotive repair shop.

Continue reading “DEQ receives “big check” to invest in P2 projects and programs”
Featured

Oregon DEQ, Washington Ecology collaborate on clean fuels

Rachel Sakata, DEQ ZEV program manager, gives a “thumbs up” after test driving a 26,000 lbs. medium-duty Daimler 3M2 emission-free semi-truck.

 A contingent from Washington Department of Ecology joined DEQ’s Clean Fuels Program staff for two days of meetings aimed at learning how the program works and how industry uses cleaner transportation fuels. The visit included time with Oregon’s two largest electric utilities Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp, and a tour of Daimler Truck North America’s “Electric Island” in north Portland.

Continue reading Oregon DEQ, Washington Ecology collaborate on clean fuels
Featured

Congratulations to DEQ’s 2022 graduates of ASCENT Transformational Leadership Program

Ximena Cruz Cuevas (left), Brian Stafki (middle) and Laura Gleim (right) at ASCENT graduation ceremony Sept. 22, 2022

One thing that hasn’t changed at DEQ is the belief that our strength is our people. That strength is reflected in these three inspiring graduates of the 2022 ASCENT Transformational Leadership Program. Congratulations Ximena Cruz Cuevas, Northwest Region cleanup program coordinator (left), Brian Stafki, Materials Management natural resource specialist (middle) and Laura Gleim, Eastern Region public affairs specialist (right).

Continue reading Congratulations to DEQ’s 2022 graduates of ASCENT Transformational Leadership Program
Featured

The Source

As National Source Water Protection Week comes to a close, the Drinking Water Protection staff at DEQ hopes more folks are aware of what we mean by the phrase source water protection. It is the core of our work, but it might not mean much to those outside our agency. As with many fields, the internal lingo often can be mysterious. In this case it’s not complicated. The place where one’s drinking water originates is its source area.

Continue reading The Source
Featured

Complaints and Inspections

People often ask DEQ: how do you ensure facilities follow environmental laws? There are a lot of answers, but key parts are complaints, inspections and enforcement. This is the first of a two-part series that dives into the complaints and inspections process.

Lauren talks with the manager of the complaints system, a complaints inspector and two facility inspectors about how they receive complaints, find the source of pollution complaints, keep tabs on facilities that DEQ regulates and what happens when there is a violation.

Continue reading “Complaints and Inspections”
Featured

DEQ congratulates Amanda Ingmire as a Women of Vision honoree

Amanda Ingmire

Amanda Ingmire, a registered architect and policy analyst in DEQ’s Materials Management program, will receive the Women of Vision award from the Daily Journal of Commerce. DJC announced on Aug. 24, 2022 that they named Ingmire as an honoree of the 10th annual award.

Continue reading “DEQ congratulates Amanda Ingmire as a Women of Vision honoree”
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Climate Protection Program up and running on Your DEQ Online

Your DEQ Online crossed another significant milestone this week when the agency’s Climate Protection Program went fully functional in the system. This development means that businesses regulated under the program will have expanded ability to complete transactions in a secure online system.

Continue reading Climate Protection Program up and running on Your DEQ Online
Featured

Get to know your H2O

Of the many things important to people in Oregon, a major one is water. DEQ plays a major role in protecting water quality of lakes, rivers and streams to ensure they can support aquatic plants and animals.

Lauren and Dylan talk to DEQ’s Water Quality Administrator about the state of Oregon’s water as well as the staff working on improving it.

Continue reading “Get to know your H2O”
Featured

DEQ launches 2017 Survey of Oregon Lakes

Devil’s Lake was one of many lakes and reservoirs sampled during the 2017 Survey of Oregon Lakes.

Amid National Water Quality Month, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released the 2017 Survey of Oregon Lakes. The report’s field work component was completed as a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s overarching National Aquatic Resource Surveys Program, which includes the National Lakes Assessment every five years. The 2017 Survey of Oregon Lakes provides a statewide evaluation of the ecological condition of lakes and reservoirs. It also represents Oregon’s first-ever assessment of toxic compounds in those water bodies.

Continue reading “DEQ launches 2017 Survey of Oregon Lakes”
Featured

Oregon DEQ announces 2022 Diesel Emissions Mitigation Grant recipients

Diesel trash trucks are eligible for DEQ’s Diesel Emissions Mitigation Grants.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recently announced recipients of nearly $7.5 million in funding for projects designed to reduce diesel emissions across the state and among vulnerable populations. Under the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Grant Program, eight selected projects will help eliminate air contaminants affecting public health and climate by retrofitting or replacing older medium- and heavy-duty diesel equipment with new, cleaner alternatives.

Continue reading Oregon DEQ announces 2022 Diesel Emissions Mitigation Grant recipients
Featured

DEQ staff greet and inform the public at two weekend events

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staff and managers participated in two significant and successful public outreach events over the weekend of July 9-10: tabling at an Active Bethel Community event in Eugene and staffing a booth at The Big Float in Portland.

Continue reading “DEQ staff greet and inform the public at two weekend events”
Featured

Enforcement at work: Owens-Brockway installs pollution controls at glass recycling plant

Bigstock photo of a row of glass bottles ready to be filled up in a beverage factory

After DEQ issued the Owens-Brockway glass recycling plant a $1 million fine in June 2021 for air quality violations, the company signed an agreement in October 2021 resolving the enforcement action and giving Owens-Brockway two options: install pollution controls or shut down.

Continue reading “Enforcement at work: Owens-Brockway installs pollution controls at glass recycling plant”
Featured

Oregon DEQ launches new Lab web page

Harris Beach State Park Beach Monitoring Program, Shane Bennett, 2021

Did you ever want to learn more about the part of DEQ collecting the data that produces the Air Quality Index or analyzing drinking water samples for Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms? Well, head on over to our new web page and meet the Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division, a.k.a. the Lab!

Continue reading “Oregon DEQ launches new Lab web page”
Featured

2022 Earth Month Photo Contest Winners

Our photography contest features more than 50 images created by DEQ staff who work daily to protect Oregon’s air, land and water. The contest drew entries of stunning images from around the state —whether a shot from their travels or a selfie with a beloved creature or critter. Browse this gallery to see the judges’ top picks. We hope these inspire you.

  • snow on tree
  • snowy mountain above lake
Featured

DEQ submits comprehensive water quality report to EPA

DEQ Natural Resource Specialist Lesley Merrick looks for aquatic critters, a sign of a health stream.

Warm water continues to be the top source of pollution in Oregon’s rivers and streams, according to the latest and most detailed report produced by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The 2022 Integrated Report on state water quality, as it is called, is now in the hands of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which must approve its findings before it becomes official.

Continue reading “DEQ submits comprehensive water quality report to EPA”
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DEQ community outreach and soil sampling event in Cathedral Park a success

After eight months of conversations with the community, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has made progress towards addressing soil contamination and protecting community health in Cathedral Park. DEQ, the Oregon Health Authority and City of Portland staff were out in the park for three days in mid-May talking to community members about soil sampling and cleanup work in the park as part of the N. Bradford Street Cleanup Project.

A person in a high-viz vest is taking soil samples in the park by pushing a long metal object into the ground to pull out the sample.

PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
• 5 community meetings
• 73 survey responses
• 4 signs installed
• 24 hours of community outreach
• 12 sampling areas

Continue reading “DEQ community outreach and soil sampling event in Cathedral Park a success”
Featured

 Congratulations Oregonians – Oregon’s 2050 Vision for Materials Management is 10 Years Young

Photo by Minal Mistry, Cape Lookout, Oregon.

We Oregonians are proud of the beautiful and diverse landscape of our state from the Pacific coast to mountains, rivers, waterfalls, desert, forests and farmland. Oregon also enjoys a “green halo” for our forward-looking outlook about the materials we make and consume to maintain our quality of life. But did you know that you live in the only state that has a 2050 Vision, which was adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission, for how we make and use those materials and how we account for the impacts they generate? Ten years on and Oregon is still the only state with a mechanism for envisioning pathways towards 2050 that protect the beauty and grandeur of Oregon for generations to come.

Continue reading ” Congratulations Oregonians – Oregon’s 2050 Vision for Materials Management is 10 Years Young”
Featured

Oregon DEQ releases 2021 Oregon Water Quality Index

Bridge sampling location on the South Fork Coos River for the Ambient Water Quality Monitoring Program.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released the 2021 Oregon Water Quality Index. It assesses water quality at 160 ambient monitoring stations across the state. The goal is to determine the status and identify trends in waters of the state for ambient water quality conditions. The OWQI is the only water quality key performance measure reported to the Oregon Legislature. However, unlike the Integrated Report or the Water Quality Status and Trends Report, the OWQI is not compared to water quality standards; does not evaluate if beneficial uses are supported; does not have regulatory standing; nor does it attempt to identify pollutant sources contributing to water quality impairments.

Continue reading “Oregon DEQ releases 2021 Oregon Water Quality Index”
Featured

Personal Essay: Integrating Regional Solutions to DEQ’s Mission

Earth Day 2022 has come and gone, but I still think about the iconic “Earth Rise” image. Because I am a geographer, I recognize the collective and sweeping focus and perspective on air, land and water all Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s employees share in our common mission. For me and my own niche, it is such a privilege to work alongside dedicated DEQ professionals, and through the variety of ways the Regional Solutions program compliments and extends our work.

I hope that this larger view of Oregon has a positive trajectory that further motivates us, just like the perspectives Earth Rise has created.

Continue reading “Personal Essay: Integrating Regional Solutions to DEQ’s Mission”
Featured

Encouraging Green Infrastructure in Oregon

Investments in the health and resilience of Chicken Creek will benefit wildlife and the local community.

An innovative program is helping restore streambank vegetation across Oregon. The program, one of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s many, is called “water quality trading,” and trading is one of several forward-thinking efforts DEQ uses to boost investment in green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is the practice of using natural ecosystems to deliver specific services. Planting trees and other vegetation along streams to shade waterways is just one example of green infrastructure. The positive benefits of planting trees along streams (also known as riparian restoration) are well established, and include streambank stabilization, sediment and pollution filtration, wildlife habitat, water retention, and carbon sequestration. Many Oregon streams have few riparian trees to perform these important functions.

Continue reading “Encouraging Green Infrastructure in Oregon”
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Aaron Borisenko in DEQ’s Lab nominated for public service award

DEQ’s own Aaron Borisenko has been nominated for a 2022 Public Service Recognition Week Award for his work as part of the interagency Wildfire Science Team. The team is up for the Interagency Excellence Team Award category, which honors cross-agency collaboration, stakeholder engagement and innovative approaches to intractable problems.

Continue reading “Aaron Borisenko in DEQ’s Lab nominated for public service award”
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Your DEQ Online technology fee takes effect in July

Starting in July, a 4% technology fee will be charged on all financial transactions in Your DEQ Online, except agency-issued penalties. The fee, which was authorized by the 2021 Oregon Legislature, is necessary to pay for annual operation and maintenance costs of Your DEQ Online.

Continue reading “Your DEQ Online technology fee takes effect in July”
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Air Quality Awareness Week: How do I make my air quality data count?

Some of the Air Quality Monitoring Team with a SensOR outside the Lab in Hillsboro (L to R): Luke Mattheis, Tom Roick, Dan Johnson and Anthony Barnack.

It’s Air Quality Awareness Week and the DEQ Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division (You may know us as “The Lab”) thought it a great time to address one of the most common questions we receive: What is the difference between air quality data collected by DEQ and that collected by people with low-cost sensors? As scientists, we might frame the question as so: How do I collect data of known quality?

Continue reading “Air Quality Awareness Week: How do I make my air quality data count?”
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A poem for Earth Day 2022

On Earth Day reflecting

All that is She, a beauty unique

The essential poised on delicate precipices

Disaster and expectant becoming bubbling

The swing in between enormous in weight

Slumbering potential alive, awakening

On this Earth Day prevent the germ​

Of wicked problem taking root

Be hopeful for novel imaginaries sprouting

Toil no more for more-more-more-more

The well of being is deep and inclusive

Dwell here just a bit longer, reflecting

Remembering fondly someday hence

These be our good ‘ol days.

​​ Minal Mistry
​​ Minal Mistry

Minal is the Business Initiatives Lead​ with DEQ’s Materials Management Program. He focuses on enhancing well-being in the life cycles of materials produced and consumed in Oregon.

Featured

Planting roots: Lessons from my parents in sustainable living

My parents were depression-era Oklahoma farm kids who came of age at a time and place that required men and women to have practical knowledge about a bit of everything. They were carpenters, hunters, farmers, seamstresses, veterinarians and mechanics. They grew or raised their own food and preserved it for lean times.

Continue reading Planting roots: Lessons from my parents in sustainable living
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Burning questions about burning? We have answers

Among the most frequently asked questions to DEQ at this time of year are:

  1. Am I allowed to burn yard debris in my backyard?
  2. What about smoke from my neighbor’s open burning?

Here are some answers, including links to valuable resources for anyone considering setting flame to branches, leaves or other residential debris.

Continue reading Burning questions about burning? We have answers
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The three most important ways Oregon is fighting climate change

Recent headlines warn that the window is quickly closing to protect our future and preserve a livable planet. In Oregon, we have seen the effects of the climate crisis first-hand:  hundreds of deaths from extreme heat waves; thousands of homes destroyed by wildfire; lakes and rivers drying up before our eyes; farmers without water to grow food; and the toxic algal blooms that shut down the city of Salem’s drinking water system for weeks in 2018.

Continue reading “The three most important ways Oregon is fighting climate change”
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It’s Food Waste Prevention Week – Learn how to reduce food waste and save money!

Governor Kate Brown has proclaimed April 4 – 8, 2022 to be Food Waste Prevention Week, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging everyone living across the state to take simple steps to reduce waste and save money. Reducing food waste matters for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Up to 35% of all food in the U.S. is wasted and costs every Oregon household $1,800 per year on average (The EPA recently updated this figure from $1,600)
  • Food accounts for the second highest contribution to greenhouse gases by Oregon residents
  •  Preventing one ton of food from being wasted reduces significantly more greenhouse gases than simply keeping food waste out of landfills
  • Seventy percent of food Oregon households throw out could have been eaten had it not been allowed to spoil. This food differs from the peels, bones and shells that clearly couldn’t be eaten

“This week is about highlighting the importance of reducing food waste to ensure fuller wallets and reduced harm to our environment,” says Elaine Blatt, senior policy analyst at DEQ. “By focusing on preventing food waste, we hope Oregon households will learn approaches they can use now and in the future to save money and protect our planet.”

There are many steps you can take to reduce food waste. Consider trying some of the following:

  • Store food that will go bad soonest in a visible part of the fridge or pantry
  • Know how and where to store food properly so it lasts longer (visit dontletgoodfoodgobad.org for specific tips on different types of food)
  • Keep track of what you have at home or what you need to use up before it goes bad
  • Create meals from what you have on hand
  • Finish all your leftovers
  • Freeze for later use
  • Monitor the temperature in the fridge to make sure it’s at the best setting to preserve your food
  • Check your refrigerator and pantry before you shop
Visit dontletgoodfoodgobad.org for specific tips on keeping your food fresher, longer.

During Food Waste Prevention Week, our partners at Save the Food Florida are running a fun twist on a traditional game. It’s called Bad Apple Bingo! Just save the photo below (or take a screenshot) and mark your bingo card with the action you take each day. Then repost using #savethefoodfl and tagging @SavetheFoodFL to be eligible to win! Aren’t into social media? No problem. Print the card and use it as a guide for how to fight food waste at home.

There’s more good news too! In the run-up to Food Waste Prevention Week, students around the country recently participated in the FOOD FUTURE HACK-A-THON. This contest challenged students to compete with their peers to solve a food waste challenge in a virtual invention marathon culminating with the presentation of a short, 2-3 minute video illustrating each team’s solutions.

The Eco Reps Team from Oregon State University won an award in the “Best Idea” category. Their project, “Crop Circle”, outlines an innovative program connecting farms and schools to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to schools.

Finally, there are other ways to participate in Food Waste Prevention Week. These include more games and challenges, K-12 student engagement contests, invention marathons and presentations with special guests, including celebrated local chefs and elected officials. Visit www.foodwastepreventionweek.com for all the details.

By Julie Miller, communications specialist, Materials Management, Oregon DEQ

Featured

DEQ tackles questions about so few women in STEM fields

Lori Pillsbury, as Division Administrator, she is LEAD/DEQ Lab’s fearless leader

For anyone who works in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, all you have to do is look around to see there are very few women scientists, lab technicians, researchers, etc. In fact, according to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute for Statistics, fewer than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.

UNESCO commemorates International Day of Women and Girls in Science every Feb. 11 as part of an effort to educate the world about the barriers women and girls face when considering STEM careers. In honor of that day and as part of March’s celebration of women’s history, we asked DEQ employees their perspectives on why there aren’t more women in the science fields and what we can do about it. We received a wide variety of replies, which you can read below.

Continue reading “DEQ tackles questions about so few women in STEM fields”
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Three things you need to know about Oregon’s Clean Fuels program

Cory-Ann Wind, Oregon Clean Fuels Program Manager

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held a hearing on biofuels policy during which Cory-Ann Wind had the opportunity to talk about Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program – one of the most successful statewide policies for addressing the state’s contribution to global climate change. Managed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the program began in 2016 with the goal of cutting carbon emissions from transportation sector, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Continue reading “Three things you need to know about Oregon’s Clean Fuels program”
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Johnson Oil in Clatskanie one step closer to redevelopment after latest DEQ cleanup project

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is removing petroleum-contaminated soil at Johnson Oil, a former gas station and car dealership in Clatskanie that began operating in 1957. The soil-removal is the latest effort to clean up the site, which has a history of contamination dating back to the 1980s. Columbia County acquired the property through foreclosure in 2007.

DEQ collaborated with the Clatskanie Cultural Center on a Story Map to provide a summary of site activities, current risk and future plans for Johnson Oil.

Continue reading “Johnson Oil in Clatskanie one step closer to redevelopment after latest DEQ cleanup project”
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DEQ and Oregon Sea Grant invite Oregon businesses to apply to host pollution prevention interns

Applications due Feb. 18, 2022

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Sea Grant are excited to announce the opportunity for Oregon businesses to host a paid, 10-week, full-time sustainability intern for the summer through the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience Internship program.

This is a voluntary, non-regulatory program that supports environmental workforce development, waste reduction, environmental protection and economic savings. This year, the program is especially interested in working with coastal businesses, B-Corps, the metal finishing industry, small businesses and the food and beverage sector.

Continue reading “DEQ and Oregon Sea Grant invite Oregon businesses to apply to host pollution prevention interns”
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DEQ implements changes to Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program

Rebates for low- and moderate-income households increased as of Jan. 1, 2022.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has made big changes to the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program’s Charge Ahead Rebate. As of Jan. 1, 2022, low- and moderate-income households are eligible for $5,000 back with the purchase or lease of a new or used battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Previously, the Charge Ahead Rebate was $2,500. In addition, if the purchase or lease is a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, then the rebate can be combined with the Standard Rebate for up to $7,500 back.

The Oregon Legislature agreed to the increase in May 2021. It also expanded the Charge Ahead Rebate to make low-income service providers eligible for money back.

Continue reading “DEQ implements changes to Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program”
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Environmental Quality Commission votes to establish Climate Protection Program

New DEQ program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon by 90% by 2050

Statewide, OR — Today the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 3-1 to establish the Climate Protection Program which sets enforceable and declining limits on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used throughout Oregon. The limits apply to diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane, used in transportation, residential, commercial and industrial settings.

Along with other actions by the Oregon Legislature, this makes Oregon one of the few states in the nation with a comprehensive and clear pathway to reducing the emissions that cause global warming. As approved, the new rules put Oregon on track to reduce emissions from fossil fuels by 50% by 2035 and 90% by 2050, reductions that scientists agree are required to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Continue reading “Environmental Quality Commission votes to establish Climate Protection Program”
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Oregon DEQ announces recipients of $8 million in diesel emission mitigation grants  

Loaded Truck Cruising the Highway by the Desert

As part of ongoing efforts to improve air quality, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality today announced recipients of $8.1 million in funding for projects designed to reduce diesel emissions across the state and among vulnerable populations. Under the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Grant Program, 12 projects will help eliminate air contaminants affecting public health and climate by retrofitting or replacing older medium- and heavy-duty diesel equipment with new, cleaner alternatives.

“Diesel pollution is a hazard to public health, especially for our most vulnerable community members, and today’s action will permanently remove tons of toxic emissions from our air,” said Oregon State Representative Rob Nosse. “DEQ’s grant program provides valuable support for diesel equipment owners to replace their older, more polluting equipment. I am excited to see this support go out to these businesses.”

The selected projects will remove more than 200 tons of harmful air pollution, including nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter, from Oregon’s air. They range from installing diesel particulate filters in heavy-duty truck fleets based in the Portland Metro area to replacing diesel-powered street sweepers with new, zero emissions electric equipment in the Willamette Valley, to converting waste and freight hauling trucks to zero emissions electric transportation across the state.

“These grants represent our commitment to reducing diesel emissions and supporting the transition of Oregon’s medium- and heavy-duty truck fleets to zero emissions in the future.

DEQ Air Quality Division Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili.

Recipients and awards include:

Recipient: Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel Group, Inc.
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Four (4) Electric Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $600,000

Recipient: Bedrock Concrete Cutting
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Three (3) Electric Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $201,475.51

Recipient: Cadman/Lehigh Hanson
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Sixty-Three (63) Exhaust Control Retrofits
Grant Amount: $1,216,972.89

Recipient: City of Newberg
Primary Location: Newberg
Project Upgrade Type: One (1) Electric Equipment Replacement
Grant Amount: $293,066

Recipient: City of Portland
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Eight (8) Electric Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $2,660,234

Recipient: City of Roses Disposal & Recycling
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: One (1) Electric Equipment Replacement
Grant Amount: $238,046.50

Recipient: DeVry Construction LLC
Primary Location: Medford
Project Upgrade Type: One (1) Diesel Equipment Replacement
Grant Amount: $25,994.80

Recipient: DMH Inc.
Primary Location: Forest Grove
Project Upgrade Type: One (1) Exhaust Control Retrofit
Grant Amount: $14,006.63

Recipient: Estes Express Lines
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Thirteen (13) Diesel Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $316,783.75

Recipient: Morgan Industrial, Inc.
Primary Location: Hillsboro
Project Upgrade Type: Sixteen (16) Diesel Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $704,606.09

Recipient: Sysco Portland
Primary Location: Wilsonville
Project Upgrade Type: Twenty-One (21) Diesel Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $551,250

Recipient: TITAN Freight Systems
Primary Location: Portland
Project Upgrade Type: Six (6) Electric Equipment Replacements
Grant Amount: $1,288,579.50

2021 Total Grant Amount: $8,111,015.67

“These grants represent our commitment to reducing diesel emissions and supporting the transition of Oregon’s medium- and heavy-duty truck fleets to zero emissions in the future,” said DEQ Air Quality Division Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili. “Combined with the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission’s recent decision to adopt the Advanced Clean Truck rules, we are leading the way to cleaner air in Oregon.”

DEQ’s Air Quality Program staff reviewed 71 grant applications, totaling more than $53 million in funding, and applied specific criteria from the Oregon Legislature and related administrative rules to evaluate proposed projects according to a point system. The 55 total points broke down as follows:

• Project summary and approach (5 points)
• Project eligibility and type (15 points)
• Project cost and air quality benefits (5 points)
• Project location (10 points)
• Applicant and fleet profile (20 points)

Project location criterion included a GIS evaluation against a vulnerable population map . The review considered how a proposed project would improve air quality in areas with the highest diesel emissions, most vulnerable populations and highest population densities.

Starting this month, DEQ will work with grant recipients to finalize project details and agreements. Funding will not be released until the process is complete. Project work should begin by mid-February 2022.

DEQ has approximately $40 million from the Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund established after Volkswagen was found to have cheated on emissions standards. The agency will award approximately $8 million in grants per year for five consecutive calendar years, beginning in 2021 and ending in 2025.

-Susan C. Mills

Featured

Clearing the air about woodsmoke

How you burn wood in your wood stove or fireplace impacts air pollution.

Chilly nights around Oregon might inspire people to fire up wood stoves and fireplaces – but keep air quality in mind before striking a match.

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DEQ Thanks our Veterans and Active-Duty Military

As we commemorate Veterans Day, we appreciate how the many veterans and active-duty military working at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are continuing the call to service in their current jobs. DEQ is proud to have 48 military service members on staff. We honor them for their sacrifices and thank them for always saying “yes” when called upon to support our country and Oregonians.

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Governor Brown Highlights DEQ’s Efforts to Tackle Food Waste at COP26 Summit

Photo (left to right): Gregor Robertson, Jennifer Hennessey (Gov. Inslee’s Senior Policy Advisor for Environment, Water & Ocean Health), Shereen D’Souza (California Deputy Secretary for Climate Policy and Government Relations), Kate Brown (Governor of State of Oregon), Marcene Mitchell (Senior Vice President of Climate Change, World Wildlife Fund), Dr. Richard Swannell (International Director of WRAP) and Jane Ewing (Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Walmart).

Earlier this week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown shared the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s work on a global stage when she served as a panelist on a session titled “Partnerships to Reduce Wasted Food on the American West Coast” at COP26, the 2021 United Nations climate change conference.

Speaking from Glasgow, Scotland, Governor Brown talked about Oregon’s climate emergency and how the state is taking meaningful steps to combat climate change through food waste reduction. The session, hosted by the Pacific Coast Collaborative, included members of the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment. The PCFWC is an unprecedented public-private partnership featuring some of the nation’s largest food businesses alongside local, state, and provincial governments – all working collaboratively toward a shared ambition of effective, industry-wide actions that prevent and reduce wasted food along the West Coast.

“Having the PCC [Pacific Coast Collaborative] allows us to share, replicate and learn from one another in ways that are extraordinarily valuable,” Governor Brown said.

Food that is grown and never eaten consumes an enormous amount of natural resources, and is responsible for 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. According to Oregon’s own Consumption-Based Emissions Inventory, food is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions caused by people in Oregon after transportation. To address this, Governor Brown included a directive in her 2020 Executive Order 20-04 on Climate that instructs DEQ to “take actions necessary to prevent and recover food waste, with the goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.”

“We have to move further and faster,” Governor Brown said. “We just have to, no other choice.”

Among the efforts Governor Brown highlighted was Oregon’s new Bad Apple campaign, designed to help Oregon households save money and reduce food waste at home. The governor said she appreciated the campaign’s use of humor and direct appeal to consumers to save money.

You can watch the full presentation at: U.S. Climate Action Center at COP26 | Partnerships to Reduce Wasted Food on the American West Coast – YouTube

Learn more about DEQ’s work to reduce food waste at:  Department of Environmental Quality : Food Environmental Impacts and Actions : Food Environmental Impacts and Actions : State of Oregon

– Julie Miller, communications specialist

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Two Decades of Work Result in Meeting Water Quality Standards for Bacteria in the Lower Columbia Slough

Photo: The Columbia Slough is a 19-mile-long complex of narrow, shallow channels located on the southern floodplain of the Columbia River between Fairview Lake and the Willamette River.

You might not know this, but keeping poop out of the water is a lot of work! The Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for keeping Oregon’s waters safe and healthy and restoring streams and lakes from sources of nonpoint source pollution, such as bacteria from human and animal waste. This is a long-term investment that takes a combination of resources, partnerships and time.

Continue reading “Two Decades of Work Result in Meeting Water Quality Standards for Bacteria in the Lower Columbia Slough”
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DEQ partnership will provide affordable loans for failing septic systems in Oregon

An onsite septic system at a country home in Oregon.

An affordable loan program is again available for homeowners and small businesses in Oregon to repair or replace failing septic systems. Fixing or replacing failing septic systems benefits Oregonians by protecting public health and addressing threats to water quality.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and regional nonprofit lender Craft3 are teaming up to make Craft3’s Clean Water Loans available throughout the state. The Oregon Legislature approved $2 million for the program in the last session and Craft3 began accepting loan applications on Nov. 1, 2021.

Continue reading “DEQ partnership will provide affordable loans for failing septic systems in Oregon”
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Recognizing DEQ Veteran Paul Seidel for 22 years of service with U.S. Coast Guard

Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, and DEQ thanks and honors our many staff who served and are still serving Oregon and the U.S. Today we are spotlighting Paul Seidel, Northwest Region Cleanup Manager, who recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve after 22 years of service.

Ret. Commander Paul Seidel posing with his U.S. Coast Guard “shadow box” at the Oregon Department of Oregon.

As an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Paul Seidel has played active roles responding to major events, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Seidel, DEQ’s Northwest Region Cleanup Manager, says his time in the service helps keep his day job in perspective.

“I think I’m the only person at DEQ who has ever called for air support on an oil slick,” he said with a chuckle during a recent interview. “We called for two C-130s loaded with oil dispersants, and they took care of it.”

Paul said he decided to join the reserve “kind of late in life” after hearing a recruitment ad on the radio while working in Seattle. (“Those ads sometimes work!”) His father, who passed away this year, was a Korean veteran, something that Paul had always admired. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with the job he had at the time, so he did a little research and headed over to visit with a Coast Guard recruiter.

“Three months later, I’m shipped off to boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey.” He recalls a late night bus ride to the base and the “quintessential experience” of off-loading with a bunch of other sleepy-eyed recruits while “the drill sergeant just lays into you. They start working you over then and there.”

His first activation was immediately after 9/11. There were concerns that the Northwest energy infrastructure (waterfront Oil terminals) might be subject to attack. Paul drove to various sites to check their security systems. “The patrols were shore side, not water side. We were in a minivan rather than small boats.”

Less than 1 percent of Americans have military service experience, Paul noted, adding that he gained a keen perspective on leadership during his time in the reserve. At one point during the Deepwater Horizon incident, he was handed the reins to the cleanup work on Grand Isle as the section planning chief.

President Obama visited the scene, as did U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who promptly requested that the incident command double the booms he had ordered around an island that was home to a heron rookery. Paul took care of her request.

“You never know when you’re going to be in a situation where no one more senior is around and you need to be in charge,” he said. “You never know when you are going to have to provide leadership.”

–Harry Esteve, communications manager

Featured

Oregon awards Oregon Green Schools $10,000 grant

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has awarded Oregon Green Schools $10,000 to help the nonprofit transition from a fully volunteer organization to establishing a more formal structure, including a small, paid professional staff. This shift will strengthen and expand OGS’s activities with schools across the state.

Photos: Students complete the Oregon Green Schools Green lunchroom audit to better understand food waste.

Continue reading “Oregon awards Oregon Green Schools $10,000 grant”
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DEQ staff spotlight on Lynda Viray, in honor of Filipino American History Month

Lynda Viray, taking a selfie, social distancing and enjoying coffee on vacation.

Filipino Americans make up one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States with nearly 20,000 residing in the State of Oregon. Every October we celebrate Filipino heritage to increase awareness of the significant role Filipinos have played in American history.

We had the opportunity to talk to Lynda Viray, someone who knows first hand about Filipino American heritage, to learn about her role at the Oregon Department of Quality, her background and what makes her tick. Lynda’s story is a reminder of the social, cultural, intellectual and economic contributions of Filipino Americans in the nation and Oregon.

Continue reading “DEQ staff spotlight on Lynda Viray, in honor of Filipino American History Month”
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New “Bad Apple” campaign helps Oregonians save money by keeping foods fresher, longer

Spoiled food is costing Oregon households real money. In fact, every year the average household loses $1,600 by throwing away spoiled food. And while many people are already taking steps to reduce food waste, research funded by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality found that 85% of Oregon households agreed they could do more to reduce food spoilage.

Continue reading “New “Bad Apple” campaign helps Oregonians save money by keeping foods fresher, longer”
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DEQ receives EPA’s 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award

Lisa Cox (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) and Brittney Wendell (Pollution Prevention Resource Center)

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award. EPA’s announcement of the 33 award winners on Sept. 22 coincides with Pollution Prevention Week. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, promotion and use of environmentally friendly products in homes, schools and businesses. Awardees were selected for active and exemplary participation in and promotion of the product certification and labeling program.

Continue reading “DEQ receives EPA’s 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award”
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What it’s like to be ‘othered’

The harsh part of growing up as a minority is growing up not knowing that your background makes you an “other.” You could spend your whole life not knowing that you’re being treated differently, that you’re even different to begin with. You’re just you. It can take a long time to understand the full ramifications of that.

Continue reading “What it’s like to be ‘othered’”
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The future of air quality and wildfire smoke in Oregon

“I’ll count to three this time and we’ll clap after three, ok? One. Two. Three…”

Dylan Darling and Lauren Wirtis simultaneously clap into their microphones – a trick that makes it easier to align their separate recordings. You know in movies when the person says “take six!” and then snap the clapper board shut? Same thing.

Continue reading “The future of air quality and wildfire smoke in Oregon”
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DEQ’s vehicle inspection program gets record high marks from customers

You might think customers grumble when they drive their car into one of DEQ’s vehicle inspection stations – it’s time out of their day, after all, and it costs money. But think again. Over the past three months, surveys show a stunning 98.8 percent customer satisfaction with the Vehicle Inspection Program.

Continue reading “DEQ’s vehicle inspection program gets record high marks from customers”
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Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute marks eight years of outdoor learning

DEQ helped launch the program, where high school students earn college credit studying the John Day River watershed

For eight years, high school students in rural communities have earned college credits and learned about watershed science in the outdoor classroom provided by the Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute. The program includes hands-on learning at Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon’s largest at 8,000 acres. 2021 was another success!

With all the surface water from the John Day River basin flowing through the park, Cottonwood Canyon is an ideal place for STEM-centered outdoor learning, including a fuller appreciation for the river’s connection to upstream communities. Students are able to study the John Day River watershed from its uppermost reaches to the Columbia River confluence – its seasons, histories, economies, communities and biomes.

Photo credit: CCSI, 2019

The program also provides career pathways in fields such as recreation management, hydrology, geology, botany, wildlife sciences, photojournalism, technical/descriptive writing, history, renewable energy technologies and communications and public speaking.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality helped launch the institute in partnership with the Eastern Oregon Regional Solutions Program, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Eastern Oregon University, BLM Prineville District, John Day and Snake River Resource Advisory Council, U.S. Forest Service, NRCS, Oregon Water Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Water Resource Department.

Learn more about Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute.

For information about community and economic development projects across the state, please visit:

DEQ’s Regional Solutions Team webpage.

Oregon’s Regional Solutions webpages.

– Randy Jones, Regional Solutions Coordinator for Oregon’s Eastern Region/Northeast and Greater Eastern Region

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DEQ and Oregon State University conduct survey on how Oregonians heat their homes

Data needed for air quality research

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is partnering with Oregon State University to find out how people in Oregon heat their homes and the effects on air quality throughout the state.

To gather this data, DEQ’s Air Quality Division and OSU’s Consumer Insight and Market research group in Corvallis, Oregon are conducting a survey of residential home occupants in Oregon.

Continue reading “DEQ and Oregon State University conduct survey on how Oregonians heat their homes”
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Oregon DEQ releases wildfire smoke trends report for 2020

The air quality at Mirror Pond in Bend measured in the Hazardous range on Sept. 14, 2020.

The number of unhealthy air quality days caused by wildfires are increasing across Oregon. In 2020, those living here experienced the worst air quality ever recorded in the state.

Continue reading “Oregon DEQ releases wildfire smoke trends report for 2020”
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From landfill to housing: Cleanup begins at Stevens Ranch in Bend

Meandering through the sagebrush and juniper trails at the Stevens Road Tract in southeast Bend, a hiker might never suspect they are walking over acres of buried trash.

Decades-old tires, building materials containing asbestos and household trash fill in former holes and collapsed lava tubes on about 40 acres of the newly planned 382-acre mixed-use housing and commercial development called Stevens Ranch. And soon, much of that trash will be cleaned up and either recycled or deposited in a modern landfill that’s built to protect people and wildlife from trash and the pollution it can create.

Continue reading “From landfill to housing: Cleanup begins at Stevens Ranch in Bend”
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Jackson Dougan’s background and experience bring a unique perspective to DEQ

Jackson Dougan arrived at DEQ a little over two years ago, after completing a Master of Science in Global Change: Ecosystem Science & Policy from the University College Dublin in Ireland, as well as working in the New York State’s Office of the Attorney General and at the Environmental Defense Fund, among other places. He currently works as a natural resource specialist in the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

As a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, we thought this month would be a good time to check in with Jackson to see what he has been up to and if he has any recommendations for those who would like to learn more about his community.

Continue reading “Jackson Dougan’s background and experience bring a unique perspective to DEQ”
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Gov. Brown signs bill to continue, expand EV rebates

Governor Kate Brown this week signed legislation to expand access to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, particularly to people with low incomes and people of color.

By removing the current sunset on funding, House Bill 2165 will allow the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to continue offering rebates to those who buy electric vehicles.

Continue reading “Gov. Brown signs bill to continue, expand EV rebates”
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Your DEQ Online update: All systems go!

Ramesh Manickam, Your DEQ Online Risk Manager, is working with the new data management system.

Nearly three weeks into the official launch of Your DEQ Online, the agency’s new data management system, responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

“It has been very smooth,” said Ramesh Manickam, who serves as risk manager for the massive technology project. “We have not had any problems so far.”

Your DEQ Online allows regulated industries to conduct business with DEQ entirely online, including permits, certifications and licenses. It also offers electronic payments for fees and fines. The new system is being phased in over two years.

Continue reading “Your DEQ Online update: All systems go!”
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Introducing the new and improved Oregon Smoke Blog

For years, the Oregon Smoke Blog has been the go-to resource for anyone wanting to learn the latest and best information on smoke conditions during wildfire season. And now, the blog is even better.

In preparation for the upcoming summer months, DEQ has revamped the blog to give it a cleaner design and make it more user friendly. It also is much more adaptable to mobile phone use, which is increasingly the preferred method for accessing the blog.

Continue reading “Introducing the new and improved Oregon Smoke Blog”
Featured

Include old electronics in your next spring cleaning purge

No matter how hard we work at “spring cleaning,” there’s often one area that’s overlooked – our old, unused electronics. A recent survey found that most of us in Oregon have broken or obsolete TVs, computers, printers or other electronics hiding in plain sight at home. These electronics languish in closets or under sofas, in attics or storage and generally evade our spring cleaning efforts.

Continue reading “Include old electronics in your next spring cleaning purge”
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DEQ water quality analyst selected for national board

Martina Frey

The Oregon Department of Quality’s own Martina Frey has been chosen to serve on a national board that is working to modernize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s database for permit compliance and enforcement data.

Martina was one of a handful of water quality experts selected from across the United States to be part of the ICIS Modernization Board. ICIS stands for Integrated Compliance Information System, and is where states and EPA regional branches report their monitoring and enforcement activities.

Continue reading “DEQ water quality analyst selected for national board”
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Air Quality Awareness Week Q&A with Oregon DEQ’s Air Quality Division Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili

Ali Mirzakhalili at Sisters, Oregon

Ali Mirzakhalili has worked as Oregon DEQ’s Air Quality Division administrator since 2018, but he has been involved with environmental issues for much longer. For Air Quality Awareness Week, we thought it was a good time to ask him about what drew him to this work and how he feels about Oregon’s environmental future.

Continue reading “Air Quality Awareness Week Q&A with Oregon DEQ’s Air Quality Division Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili”
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DEQ Lab releases groundwater quality report for Harney County

DEQ’s Nick Haxton-Evans takes a water sample from a groundwater well in Harney County.

A new report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Laboratory shows water quality data for groundwater in Harney County.

DEQ sampled water from 91 residential, agricultural and monitoring wells in the county and detected 42 different chemicals, including bacteria, pesticides, metals and nutrients. Some of these chemicals naturally exist within water and others are potential contaminants.

Continue reading “DEQ Lab releases groundwater quality report for Harney County”
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DEQ’s Lab makes science the cornerstone of environmental protection in Oregon

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of science to inform both government response and individual action. Climate science is used in a similar way to shape decision-making that can deliver a safe, equitable and sustainable future.

At the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, science is the cornerstone of the work we do to better understand the health of Oregon’s environment.

With just 82 employees, the Oregon Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division, DEQ’s lab, provides the scientific and technical capacity to respond quickly to a broad range of emerging issues and unprecedented events, such as wildfires, that affect public health and the environment.

Continue reading “DEQ’s Lab makes science the cornerstone of environmental protection in Oregon”
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Food waste reduction work hits major milestone

Curbing the 35% of food that goes uneaten each year will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and land resources, and support those facing food insecurity— which has become increasingly critical in the wake of COVID-19. DEQ’s Materials Management program prioritizes food waste reduction, and leads a variety of projects to reduce food waste. One of those efforts is DEQ’s ongoing support of regional food waste reductions through the Pacific Coast Collaborative, an international governmental agency focused on several environmental initiatives, including food waste reduction.

Continue reading “Food waste reduction work hits major milestone”
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Water quality team reflects on milestones while charting course ahead

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission made headlines recently with a landmark decision to grant additional environmental protections to Crater and Waldo lakes, known for their clear, pristine water. The commission’s approval of the Outstanding Resource Water designation was the end result of months of work by DEQ’s Water Quality Program, from thorough research to public outreach.

Continue reading “Water quality team reflects on milestones while charting course ahead”