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Letter: State should demand lower pollution from Carty

Published on February 27, 2018 3:19PM

Portland General Electric, Carty plant’s proposed air quality permit should be denied if it allows self-monitoring of pollutants and here is why.

As a former Union Pacific train conductor that delivered PGE coal to this plant, we witnessed many large tanker trucks applying hazardous waste to the stockpiles of coal. I was told by PGE employees this waste (coal tar pitch) was coming from the aluminum plants along the Columbia River. The coal tar pitch they were mixing and burning with the coal is a known carcinogen when burned.

This unpermitted burning of hazardous waste was brought to the attention of Oregon Public Utilities Commission during a recorded hearing I attended at the PGE Carty coal-fire plant. After the hazardous waste disclosure we never saw the tank trucks again. In the years since this happened, I have often wondered why this was not disclosed to the press. I am certain the wheat, potato and melon farmers would been interested in this news. The state agencies involved (PUC and DEQ) were bad actors if they helped with a news blackout.

We were also told by some of the PGE Carty plant operators that their supervisors were making them turn off the stack scrubbers at night. My impression from the people saying this, they were not happy. If this was true what were the health effects from the fly ash that was being dispersed into the air? What poisons were being released?

If my memory serves me right, the state of Oregon allowed this plant to be constructed and then immediately put into mothball for many, many years. Was this done so they could operate a dirtier plant in the future when clean air standards would be stricter? The state should never have permitted this plant in a way that would allow PGE to circumvent future clean air rules. This is morally wrong if it shortens people’s lives.

It does not serve the public interest, that we would allow this plant the ability to increase pollution. PGE Carty coal plant gamed the clean air rules at the initial startup. This plant has always polluted more than they should have including the time they were illegally burning hazardous waste.

The state of Oregon should require this plant to pollute less not more. The public should be informed of this plant’s dark history that affects our public health.

Charles Erickson

Oregon City


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