Precision Castparts will hold community meeting on air quality tonight

Precision's factory in southeast Portland. (Photo: South Portland Air Quality)

Precision’s factory in southeast Portland.
(Photo: South Portland Air Quality)

A major industrial metal parts manufacturer with a factory just a few hundred feet away from the Springwater Corridor biking path is holding a meeting tonight (5/25) to talk about air quality.

Precision Castparts Corporation will host a community meeting from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Monarch Hotel in Clackamas (12566 SE 93rd Avenue, it’s unclear why they’re having it four miles from the community that’s impacted).

Pollution concerns have dominated headlines in Portland for months now. It started when a researcher discovered unhealthy levels of toxic pollutants coming from a glass factory in southeast Portland. The issue became a major topic in the Portland mayoral campaign, has led to a class-action lawsuit and has galvanized local activists. Dozens of people rallied and testified at the state capitol yesterday to put the issue in front of lawmakers. Also yesterday the Oregon Environmental Council published a new report about dirty air from diesel truck engines which they say causes up to 460 premature deaths each year.


Graphic showing emissions near the Springwater from researcher Alex Bigazzi at Portland State University.

Air being emitted from Precision Castparts factory on SE Johnson Creek Blvd is another front in the battle. Recent research from Portland State University has shown that the air around the Springwater path is some of the worst in the city.

According to Jacob Sherman with advocacy group South Portland Air Quality, “Neighbors have been putting a ton of pressure on Precision to improve their environmental footprint and tonight the company is hosting their own meeting to communicate what they are doing, and to answer community questions and concerns.”

SPAQ asked the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to monitor PCC’s emissions back in March and the results are now available. SPAQ calls them “disturbing”:

“It is troubling that concentrations of arsenic, hexavalent chromium, and nickel were over health-based benchmarks. Arsenic was measured at four times the ambient benchmark, hexavalent chromium was measured at 1.2 times the ambient benchmark, and nickel was measured at 1.6 times the ambient benchmark.”

And although the Oregon Health Authority says there’s, “no indication of an immediate health threat,” Sherman isn’t buying it. “This statement ignores the potential long term health impacts facing nearby residents,” he wrote on the group’s blog.

Five years ago Precision came under fire from neighbors after their factory emitted a toxic cloud of hydrochloric and nitric acid that caused respiratory injuries for two firefighters and forced evacuations nearby. Now the company is on the hot seat again after being named in an air quality probe by the Oregon State Senate.

Sherman said he sees bicycle riders as a critical stakeholder in these discussions given the popularity of the Springwater path and its proximity to the Precision Castparts factory.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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