Pollution Update 7-11-13

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a penalty of $2,400 against Bear Mountain Forest Products on July 3 for violating the Clean Air Act permit for its wood pellet manufacturing facility in Brownsville in September. Bear Mountain violated the opacity limit in its permit; opacity is an indicator for particulate emissions, which can contribute to respiratory distress, affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems such as decreased lung function, irregular heartbeat and chronic bronchitis. DEQ notified Bear Mountain about similar violations in September of 2010 and September of 2011, making the September of 2012 the third year in a row with similar violations. It appears that this is the first time DEQ has fined Bear Mountain. Additionally, DEQ observed three areas at the facility with significant amounts of fugitive dust escaping during a June 2012 inspection. Bear Mountain reached an out-of-court settlement with Willamette Riverkeeper (represented by Oregon Clean Water Action Project) in 2010 concerning alleged Clean Water Act violations at the Brownsville facility dating back to 2005. Bear Mountain paid the Marys River Watershed Council $6,000 for use in water quality-related projects as part of that settlement.