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Neighbors ask for clean diesel at Washington Park reservoir project

Now other neighbors want the same treatment.

After Northwest Portland residents won a contractor’s pledge to use “clean diesel” construction equipment at the Con-Way redevelopment near their homes, another group is asking for a similar deal.

The Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association is pressing the Portland Water Bureau to require clean diesel equipment for its controversial project to cover the open reservoirs at Washington Park.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and other environmental regulators have identified diesel fumes as a particularly toxic source of air pollution, with the potential to cause cancer.

In a Dec. 16 letter to City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Water Bureau, the Arlington Heights group noted that Chicago, Pittsburgh and New York City now require use of low-diesel “Tier IV” equipment for all publicly funded construction projects.

The first such project to require clean diesel in Portland appears to be C.E. John Co.’s redevelopment of the Con-Way site in Northwest Portland. John pledged to use low-diesel equipment in an agreement with the neighborhood association.

“To my knowledge, this is the first company in the Northwest to voluntarily agree to use clean diesel construction equipment for a private construction project,” says Kevin Downing, DEQ air quality planner.

However, the Vancouver, Wash. developer won a $132,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to help retrofit its trucks, cranes and earthmovers to reduce diesel particulate in their emissions.

Hillside residents near Washington Park are among the city's most affluent, but they note that a clean-diesel requirement wouldn't just benefit them. As the neighborhood association notes in its letter to Fish, Washington Park is a “crown jewel of Portland’s park system, and a major attraction for residents and visitors alike. If there’s any place that deserves protection of its air quality, it’s this green refuge.”

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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