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Hayden Island residents face off with DEQ over air quality concerns

Angry Hayden Island residents crowded a hotel meeting room to confront Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials Tuesday night.

While the meeting was to discuss new permits for an oil recycling company on the island, residents used the opportunity to bring up long-standing issues.

Last year, KATU reported on strange odors and medical issues among Hayden Island residents. People suspected American Petroleum Environmental Services (APES) was at least partly to blame.

"There's some sort of vapor or toxic thing in the air and it makes you choke," said Jeri Jimenez. "In my case it made me have nosebleeds."

Tests later confirmed the presence of poisonous gas in the area, but there was no definitive link to any one company. DEQ leaders, however, do admit APES is partly responsible for the presence of foul odors and certain emissions. They are currently developing new emissions control standards to address the problem.

Separately, APES has applied for new permits from the state DEQ. On Tuesday night, residents brought up their long-standing concerns to argue new permits shouldn't be approved.

"Our air continues to be toxic," said one resident. "If they get a new permit, why should we believe that our air won't continue to be toxic under a new permit?"

DEQ leaders haven't even begun drafting new permits. They expect that to be done within a few months, which will then invite another round of public comment.

The owner of APES declined to comment Tuesday night, deferring questions to DEQ leaders. In the past, the company has maintained it follows all environmental laws and works closely with regulators.

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