DEQ issues $5,365 penalty to Mount Hood Railroad

Fined for violating stormwater permit

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a $5,365 civil penalty to Mount Hood Railroad Company for failing to monitor pollutant levels in the rail line’s stormwater — a violation of the company’s stormwater discharge permit.

According to a release from DEQ, Mount Hood Railroad, which is located on Railroad Avenue in Hood River, was specifically fined because the company “failed to collect all the required samples and did not analyze discharge for iron during the 2012-2013 monitoring year.”

Leah Feldon, manager of DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, wrote in the notice of civil penalty that Mount Hood Railroad is required to “monitor benchmark pollutants four times per monitoring period” as well as “impairment pollutants two times per monitoring period.” According to the report, Mount Hood Railroad “failed to conduct sampling and analysis for benchmark pollutants on one occasion at two outfalls,” as well as “failed to conduct sampling and analysis for iron on two occasions at two outfalls.”

Esther Westbrook, environmental law specialist for DEQ, reported that many industries in Oregon are required to monitor their property’s stormwater for pollutants that could trickle into and potentially harm nearby waterways. In the case of Mount Hood Railroad, a permit is required due to the rail line’s proximity to the Hood River.

Westbrook said in addition to the standard stormwater benchmark pollutants Mount Hood Railroad’s permit requires it to monitor, the company must also track levels of “impairment pollutants,” which include copper and iron. She added that the Hood River is already considered an “impaired” body of water by the DEQ, explaining that “there are certain pollutants there that are in higher amounts than we’d like to see.”

According to Westbrook, industries often contract out their stormwater monitoring — a process which usually consists of extracting water samples and sending them to laboratories for analysis. She said she did not know if this was the case with Mount Hood Railroad, but noted the process often “leaves room for mistakes” and added that “it’s not uncommon” for a company to receive these kinds of penalties.

“In most cases, it’s been my experience that this has been chalked up to human error,” Westbrook said.

This is not the first time Mount Hood Railroad has been penalized by DEQ. According to the agency’s records, Mount Hood Railroad received a notice of civil penalty assessment in March 2010 after “failing to collect monitoring data,” and paid $5,266 in fines.

Ron Kaufman, general manager for Mount Hood Railroad, was asked to comment on the violations. He reported that “the matter is under appeal at this time,” and that he had “no additional comments at this time.”

Westbrook, however, stated the appeal deadline had already passed and that DEQ had not received any appeal filing from Mount Hood Railroad. Kaufman was contacted to confirm this, but had not responded as of press time.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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