DEQ fines mining operation in Cascade Locks

CASCADE LOCKS -- A contested mining operation will be fined for producing too much dust by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

But last week the Oregon Department of Transportation determined that the 30,000-40,000 tons of crushed rock generated by L&H Grading of Salem during the past month has failed to meet its durability standards for freeway repaving.

On Tuesday the firm, which was subcontracted to operate the crusher, pulled its equipment out of the Port of Cascade Locks' industrial park to try again in Dallesport, Wash.

That left port officials with several huge mountains of aggregate to sell off.

The port's contract with J.C. Compton, Inc., lead contractor for the Oregon Department of Transportation project, was set up so the Portland-based company would pay about $1.10 per ton for asphalt batched at the site. The aggregate would be used for Interstate 84 construction at the western end of the Gorge this fall. Port director Chuck Daughtry said the port now has legal issues to work out with Compton over the ownership of the rock and its potential resale value.

On Monday, DEQ sent an official notice of violation to L&H Grading for its failure to sufficiently dampen the rock piles and crusher to keep the dust down. That notice came after Frank Messina, DEQ environmental specialist, visited the site and warned the company to take better measures to control the dust generated during the operation.

In addition, L&H Grading failed to produce a copy of its Air Contaminant Discharge Permit for Messina's review even though that is required to be kept on site by state law. Upon further investigation, Messina learned the firm had also not provided the proper relocation notice to DEQ's main office prior to setting up the crusher in Cascade Locks, as required under the air discharge permit.

Messina undertook his investigation after receiving complaints about a billowing cloud of dust generated by the rock crushing operation, some of which were even registered from across the Columbia River in Stevenson, Wash.

When these same complaints were registered with the port's administrative office in early August, Chuck Daughtry, port director, requested a copy of Compton's DEQ operational permit but, as of Tuesday, that request had not been fulfilled. Under the port's permit from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, leasees of the old rock quarry are required to hold all necessary permits and comply with state and local land-use regulations.

However, whether that condition had been adequately fulfilled was intended to be the subject of Thursday's Cascade Locks Planning Commission meeting.

Resident Sandra Kelley had asked to have the Aug. 9 hearing of the quasi-judicial body set set over to gather more evidence that would show the mining operation was in violation of city code and both state and federal environmental laws. City and port officials are unclear about whether the Aug. 23 meeting will still place.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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