BikePortland

Hazmat situation on Springwater raises air quality concerns (again)


For the second time since November of last year, people who bike on the Springwater Corridor (in blue) have raised concerns about emissions from nearby factories.

At just after 5:30 pm yesterday evening a toxic cloud of chemicals formed above a factory in Southeast Portland just yards away from the popular Springwater Corridor bikeway.

“… Once I got home and heard there was a chemical leak and a toxic cloud forming, I was pretty frustrated that they let us bikers ride through without warning.”
— Tina Osterink

The incident occurred at Precision Castparts on the 5000 block of SE Johnson Creek Blvd just east of Harney. According to The Oregonian, the cloud was a mix of hydrochloric and nitric acid that caused respiratory injuries for two firefighters. Authorities called for a residential evacuation near the factory and closed SE Johnson Creek Blvd.

But according to Sellwood resident Tina Osterink, there was no warning of the threat or official closure of the Springwater Corridor. Osterink wrote us to share her experience:

“My coworker and I were biking home to Sellwood from Gresham yesterday when we noticed fire trucks arriving at the Precision Castparts plant on Johnson Creek Blvd. The firemen were turning cars around along the street yet they did not think to alert us bike commuters, which once I got home and heard there was a chemical leak and a toxic cloud forming, I was pretty frustrated that they let us bikers ride through without warning.”

Osterink says she woke up with lung irritation this morning and is worried that she might have been exposed to harmful airborne chemicals.

“Actually,” Osterink says, “I’ve always wondered about biking next to that industrial area and if they should be monitored more to protect people walking and biking along that stretch.”

And she’s not the only one.

After news broke of this toxic cloud last night, I recalled our story back in November about residents’ concerns of emissions from plastics manufacturer McClure Industries. Residents near that factory say McClure is releasing too much styrene into the air.

Both of these incidents raise the issue of whether or not the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and other regional agencies should begin to recognize the Springwater facility as a transportation corridor and adjust their policies and response protocols accordingly.

Switch to Desktop View with Comments