Smelly odor plagues Hayden Island, residents say
People who live on Hayden Island say a mysterious odor is making them sick. KOIN 6 News reports it's been plaguing them for years.
Even if you don't live there, you can often smell it when you drive past Jantzen Beach on I-5 in the evening.
Residents feel the state hasn't done enough to pinpoint the problem.
Brad Fox said in the 15 years he has lived in the Hayden Island area, the state has failed to get a handle on a foul stench that's been making residents like his wife sick.
"Not much has changed," Fox said. "She's getting severe migraines and nausea and it's at night, it's all at night."
The Department of Environment Quality has been investigating since at least 2015 and KOIN 6 News has followed the complaints.
In August 2016, Nina Vaught told KOIN 6 News she once woke up at 4 a.m. so sick that she couldn't get out of bed.
"Can't breathe, respiratory problems, bloody sinuses, headaches that last for hours," Mary Lou Putman told KOIN in July 2017.
In 2016, the DEQ pinpointed an oil recovery refinery as a potential source. It was then owned by American Petroleum and Environmental Services.
Its pollution permit allowed it to burn waste oil containing small amounts of chromium, arsenic lead, cadmium and cancer-causing PCBs.
In 2017, infrared video obtained by KOIN 6 News showed volatile compounds coming from the plant billowing into the air.
That same year, the American Petroleum and Environmental Services plant became EcoLube Recovery.
CEO Eric Spencer said it invested "well over $1 million in correcting the mistakes of previous owners."
"If it did happen, it's not helping at all," Fox said.
KOIN 6 News obtained the odor complaints logged with the DEQ with a public information request. In 2016 there were 75 and in 2017 there were 39.
In 2018 there were 26.
EcoLube Recovery said the company "takes each odor complaint seriously and has put over $1 million into removing odor-causing operations and materials and updating the facility."
The DEQ said the houseboats sit in such a low-lying area that it could be one of the reasons the smells are sinking in at night.
In response to questions about the smell at night, Spencer said, "we have not found any correlation to activities at our facility."
"We continue to look around the facility, to identify a potential source, address it and then see if that reduces odors," said DEQ NW Regional Air Quality Manager Matt Hoffman.
In addition, the DEQ points out there is other industry in the area.
EcoLube said it "will continue to make more improvements throughout 2019."
"It's been going on for years and years and years and it needs to stop," Fox said.
Oregon adopted new clean air rules in November. EcoLube, like all facilities permitted by DEQ, will be reviewed to make sure they comply with the regulations.
Both EcoLube and the DEQ said EcoLube is currently in compliance with its air quality permit.
KOIN 6 News is a media partner of the Portland Tribune.