Report: Portland a dumping ground for dirty diesels

Report: Portland a dumping ground for dirty diesels

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland is becoming a graveyard for diesel trucks on their last leg after being run out of California.

That's among the findings of a new Portland City Club report on air pollution.

The report shows wood stoves and car exhaust adds to the toxins to the air. They're one and two on the list. But number three on that list is dirty diesel trucks that find their way up Interstate 5.

Despite Portland's green image, the report says the city has some of the worst air in the country.

One of the culprits is old diesel trucks. Oregon has become a dumping ground for California's rejects.

"Because trucks have to meet a higher standard in other states and still have some life in the engines, that they're going to come to Oregon because they can," said Peter Livingston, who chaired the report committee.

"We have some evidence now from trucks that were previously registered in California that are now registered in Oregon," said Andy Ginsburg, who monitors air quality for DEQ.

In Oregon, trucks over 8,500 pounds don't even get tested at emission centers in Oregon.

Why not?

"It's a good question," said Ginsburg. "We're constantly trying to prioritize and say, what's the next important thing to do? And what we really focus on is trying to get emission control devices put on the trucks in the first place. We think we get a lot more bang for the buck from that than going out and trying to find smoky trucks on the highway."

So instead of testing, Ginsburg says Oregon offers grants to encourage companies to upgrade.

Meanwhile, the state's air quality continues to suffer. According to the EPA’s most recent numbers, New York and Los Angeles have the worst rates for cancer risk from air toxins, more than 10 times the national average. Portland ranks third.

DEQ says those statistics are exaggerated because Oregon does a better job of reporting pollution than other states.

Still, the Portland City Club wants lawmakers to change the standards and make Oregon just like California.

So the club will be lobbying legislators, but so will the trucking companies that won't want to lose money either in retrofitting old trucks or buying new ones.

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