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Active Bethel Citizens Executive Board Meeting Minutes

Online April 21st, 2021, 7-9pm (PST)

Board members in attendance: Lin Woodrich, Tai Pruce-Zimmerman, Ed Farren, Emily Pyle, Suzanne O’ Shea, Jenny Boyd, Ethan Clevenger and Travis Johannes, Amie Anderson-Forbis, Mysti Frost (translator)

Absent: Sarah Warren, Madison Hibler

Other attendees: Travis Knudson (Lane Regional Air Protection Agency), Steve Dietrich (LRAPA), Max Hueftle (LRAPA), Anne Farris (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality), Dylan Darling (DEQ), Mike Kuckinski (DEQ), Lisa Arkin (Beyond Toxics), Arjorie Arberry-Barbeault (Beyond Toxics), Scott Altenhoff, David Farrar (OHA toxicologist), Louisa de Heer, Claire Syrett (Eugene City Councilor), Councilor Groves, Erik Burke (Friends of Trees), State Rep. James Manning, State Rep. Julie Fahey, Mark Moore (City of Eugene), Chris Nidel, Delora [last name omitted from sign-in], Tomas Daly, Tresa Hackford, Charlie Sterling, Diana Rohlman, Diane [last name omitted], Donna Silverberg, Jeremy AAsum, Kayla Godowa-Tufti, Rick [last name omitted], Robin Bloomgarden, Ryan Josef-Maier, Sarah Hale,

7:02 Meeting was called to order by: Lin

– Motion to approve agenda made by: Tai

– Seconded by: Suzanne

7:05 Lin introduces the meeting topic. Introduces those in attendance. Gives rules for meeting participation.

General Meeting

7:11 Presentation by Travis Knudson, LRAPA Public Affairs Officer.

LRAPA is the regulatory agency that monitors air quality in Lane County, issues permits to businesses that produce pollutants above a certain level. Knudson gave information on air quality monitoring system in our neighborhood and updates on enforcement of pollution actions against JH Baxter facility.

Purple Air Sensors – In addition to eight air professional-grade monitors around Lane County measuring air quality, LRAPA also has 90 commercial grade air quality monitors that monitor particulate matter like woodsmoke but not air toxins. To stay informed about air quality, information can be accessed at https://fire.airnow.gov.

Cleaner Air Oregon is a state monitoring and enforcement program that limits air toxins based on risk to human health rather than amount of toxins released. The program measures pollutants from specific sites, and conducts an emission inventory that assesses health risk to the surrounding community. JH Baxter, a timber treatment facility in the Bethel neighborhood, is being monitored due to release of air toxins in 2019. Currently, an emissions inventory is being conducted to learn what toxins are being released by the facility. CAO will also use computer modeling to predict where pollutants will move and at what concentration and assess the potential health risk to people living, working and going to school nearby. At the end of this process, an “action risk level” will be assigned to the facility. If the health risk level exceeds limits determined by the state, a facility is required to be permitted by DEQ. At higher risk levels, facilities are required to do community engagement, demonstrate best available control technology for toxins, engage in mandatory risk reduction, or immediate curtailment. CAO conducts planned and unplanned inspections of permitted facilities and responds to community complaints. Complaints can be made through LRAPA’s website: https://www.lrapa.org.

Eugene City Councilor Randy Groves asks, what is the technical capability of monitoring equipment? When more than one chemical is mixed, is equipment capable of determining what chemicals are present? Is there an alarm system when pollutants exceed a certain level? He states that Eugene/Springfield Hazmat Department has capability to deliver results “within minutes.”

Travis Knudson states that the sensors LRAPA employs use a filter to detect chemicals. The filters must be physically processed in a lab before results can be released, which results in a delay of days to weeks before they can be made public. Travis will follow up on questions about sensors with quicker processing times.

Ryan Josef-Maier asks, how is the community made aware of possible health effects from toxins released by JH Baxter?

Travis Knudson states that LRAPA is working with Oregon DEQ to assess the health risk. Information on air quality will be provided in a public forum. DEQ will release a risk assessment on dioxins in soil. Cleaner Air Oregon plans to release a risk assessment some time in 2022.

Lin Woodrich states that it is important for neighbors to use the LRAPA complaint line, as a higher volume of complaints can trigger an investigation.

Anne Farris (Oregon DEQ) states that the Oregon Health Authority will also release a risk assessment.

David Farrer (Oregon Health Authority) clarifies that it will probably be impossible to assess the health risks from specific events in the past, as the available air quality monitors in the neighborhood don’t measure the toxin levels in the air, so the levels of toxins released are not known.

Anne Farris states, DEQ has learned there were operations occurring on JH Baster site that weren’t being measured. Dioxins in the soil have been tested in the past and did not exceed public health levels. Additional samples have been taken in the past year and still did not exceed public health levels, but were higher than in the past, so further testing is being undertaken in areas where it is expected for levels to be higher. This sampling is expected to happen in May 2021. A public meeting about the regulatory actions at JH Baxter is planned for the end of June or July 2021. The cross-agency regulatory body that has been created to regulate JH Baxter and keep the community informed is a very different approach than that used at most sites.

David Farrer states that the levels of air toxins measured by the LRAPA monitors were higher than the chronic cancer risk exposure levels, but not higher than what is typical for other urban environments.

7:54 Presentation by Lisa Arkins and Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault of Beyond Toxics.

Beyond Toxics and West Eugene Community Health Coalition conducted a community environmental health survey of the Bethel neighborhood in 2011-2012 and again in 2019-2020. They found that the area between Roosevelt and Elmira had as many as 18 chemicals overlaid in the air. In these neighborhoods, neighbors canvassed in the survey perceived the chemicals detected in the air by odor as being related to health problems they experienced. Higher rates of serious and chronic illnesses, including cancer, asthma, and respiratory illnesses, were found in areas close to industrial sites. West Eugene Community Health Coalition holds monthly meetings about environmental contaminants and health issues, every second Wednesday of the month, 6-7pm. The monthly ZOOM link is: https://tinyurl.com/westeugenemeeting Contact Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault for more info: aab@beyondtoxics.org or 541-465-8860

8:14 Presentation by Scott Altenhoff, City of Eugene Urban Forestry Program and Erik Burke, Eugene Friends of Trees

Trees have the possibility of improving the quality of lives (air quality, noise levels, stress levels). The City of Eugene Urban Forestry Program is trying to enhance tree canopy cover in areas such as Bethel that have less canopy cover, higher concentrations of disadvantaged residents, and more air quality issues than other neighborhoods. Eugene Friends of Trees focuses on planting trees on private property and has done several green space plantings in Bethel, with plans to do more. Anyone can request a tree on their property by visiting the Eugene Friends of Trees website.

8:26 Gilbert Street Park changes (read into record by Lin)

To increase safety at the park, the city is changing park rules to ban alcohol use on the site. The city recently added a fence to the back of the park, and is discussing further low-cost landscaping options. They recently conducted a community policing effort, and plan to increase the park ambassador presence. City staff report some decrease in the amount of criminal activity at the site. A city-led volunteer program will seek to build a park-adoption program in the area. The city does not currently have enough funding to add kids’ play equipment or activities to the park.

8:43 – Committee Reports:

  1. 8:45 – Finance – Suzanne sent out financial report to board in prior email. Discussed having link on website go directly to ENI.

  2. 8:51 – Public Safety – Eugene/Springfield Community Emergency Response Team will have a training in the fall. City of Eugene has recently released emergency operations plan with hazard maps (wildfire, landscapes, earthquake, etc). Ed is thinking of using this as template to create a neighborhood emergency plan. Disaster preparedness meeting is second Saturday of the month, next meeting is May 8th 12am-12pm.

  3. 8:51 – Events – Lin – possible Bethel business scavenger hunt in June, maybe partnering with Petersen Barn. Emily – Plastics Recycling Drive planned for May 15th.

  4. 8:58 – Civic Engagement – Lin – City council voted to direct city planner to create plan for economic prosperity in Bethel.

  5. 9:04 – Pantry – No update from Jenny.

– 9:04- Beautification – Travis -Wellness/Herb garden plans being finalized, most likely location is Petersen Barn. Next meeting is Thursday, 4/29, 6pm.

  1. 9:08 – Business Relations – Lin – ABC has secured donations of hand sanitizer to local businesses, will be contacting team to hand these out.

– 9:11- Social Equity – Lin/Travis – Had meeting last night, watched movies about social equity issues and discussed topics. Interested in developing ideas for reaching out to new membership. Next meeting is April 27th at 6:30pm.

– 8:33 – Motion to adjourn made by: Tai

1st by: Ed

2nd by: Jenny

Approved by board.

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