Investigative series by Cascadia Times raises questions about the operations of AmeriTies at its plant in the Columbia Gorge community.

PHOTO BY SARAH CLARK, COURTESY OF CASCADIA TIMES  - Union Pacific Railroad purchases railroad ties from AmeriTies West, LLC in The Dalles. Wooden railroad ties are stacked in the yard awaiting processing. Ties are soaked in creosote, a toxic preservative, before being installed on the railroad. In Part 2 of freelance environmental reporter Paul Koberstein's comprehensive review of toxic air emissions in The Dalles, he suggests the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has been lax about regulating pollution related to a large creosote operation by railroad tie maker AmeriTies, which uses creosote as a wood preservative for the ties.

Koberstein, a frequent contributor to Sustainable Life and The Portland Tribune, also edits Cascadia Times, the online environmental journal based in Portland where the article appears. The piece was coauthored by Jessica Applegate.

In his latest piece, titled "Trade Secrets," Koberstein says DEQ never asked the plant operators to install any pollution control devices that would reduce pollution stemming from its storage yard. Nor did the environmental regulator test the plant emissions to assess whether they contain toxic chemicals, Koberstein concluded, after reviewing extensive public records. DEQ has called on AmeriTies to reduce foul odors emanating from the plant, he writes.

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