Portland roofing company to pay $1.45M for air pollution
Oregon environmental regulators have settled the largest fine in the agency's history with a North Portland roofing company that was penalized for air pollution spanning 10 years.
Herbert Malarkey Roofing Co. will pay $1.45 million for air quality violations at its facility at 3131 N. Columbia Blvd., officials with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Friday, July 29.
The company makes shingles and other roofing materials from its facility in Portland's Kenton neighborhood.
The penalty stems from air pollution that occurred after the company modified one of the facility's emissions units in 2009. Company officials failed to notify DEQ of the modification and install proper pollution control equipment, according to DEQ.
In 2018, the company self-reported that it may have been emitting more of the chemical formaldehyde into the surrounding community than it previously thought. The company and DEQ confirmed emissions were elevated after testing in 2019.
Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to multiple types of cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. It also can cause other serious health effects such as nausea, skin irritation and a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat, DEQ officials said.
The company installed pollution controls in July 2020 that are at least 96% effective, according to DEQ.
The final $1.45 million fine was reduced from a $2.1 million fine DEQ issued the company last fall. Officials reduced the fine after the company demonstrated that it had avoided fewer costs from the violations than previously thought, according to DEQ.
The settlement agreement between the company and DEQ includes actions to support both short- and long-term environmental compliance, DEQ officials said.
Malarkey must submit for DEQ approval a monitoring plan for the pollution controls installed in 2020 within 45 days. The company also must report to DEQ monthly to confirm the pollution controls are operating effectively.
The company has the option to pay $1.16 million of its fines toward DEQ-approved projects that would provide air quality benefits to the community, called "supplemental environmental projects." If Malarkey doesn't identify projects that meet DEQ requirements, the company must pay the remaining $1.16 million to the state.
Such projects "are a critical remedy for the communities harmed by environmental violations," said Kieran O'Donnell, manager of DEQ's Office of Compliance and Enforcement. "This agreement puts Malarkey on track for compliance and gives the company the opportunity to engage with the surrounding community to rectify the violations."
The company intends to fund tree-planting in North Portland with the nonprofit Friends of Trees as one supplemental project, Malarkey officials said in a statement.
"We are committed to operate according to the highest standards of health, safety and environment across all our sites," said Dale Rushing the company's president. "That's why we took immediate corrective action and resolved the air emission issue once we became aware of it."
Malarkey has been "rooted in the North Portland community for 70 years," Rushing continued. "We take our responsibility as a neighbor very seriously and are looking forward to working together with local organizations to fund their environmental projects."
Yashar Vasef, director of Friends of Trees, said Malarkey's plan to partner with the nonprofit comes at a great time.
"The proposed project area is in a historically low canopy area," Vasef said. "With this opportunity, we can continue making North Portland a more verdant and healthier neighborhood in the city."
Malarkey also is discussing how to support renewable energy projects in low-income and communities of color with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, officials said, adding that they will announce more projects in the coming months.
In March, Malarkey was acquired by the Switzerland-based company The Holcim Group in a deal valued at $1.35 billion. Malarkey was founded in 1956 by Herbert Malarkey. The company employed 600 people at its three facilities in Portland; South Gate, California; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Malarkey's president and the director of Friends of Trees.
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