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EPA Begins Cleanup at a Metal-Plating Shop in Portland, Oregon

Release Date: 5/21/2003
Contact Information: Bill Dunbar
(206) 553-1203

May, 21, 2003

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that on Thursday May 15 it began an emergency response at the Columbia American Plating Company at 3003 NW 35th Avenue in Portland.

The EPA has shut off electric power and natural gas to eliminate the risk of fire and explosion, and covered open drums and vats to prevent spills, and is securing the site to prevent public access. EPA is also pumping storm water into a holding ponds and over the next weeks it will be remove and properly dispose of hazardous chemicals left at the site.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requested EPA’s participation in a site inspection after City of Portland's Fire Marshall’s Office (FMO) closed the Columbia American Plating Co. Inspections revealed significant amounts of hazardous materials, including strong acids and bases, toxic metals, and cyanide-containing compounds. The materials were not safely stored, and the deterioration of the building created additional risk of fire, explosion, and release of toxic substances.

Chemicals of Concern:
Cyanide is a very poisonous chemical. Exposure to high levels of cyanide harms the brain and heart, and may cause coma and death. Exposure to lower levels may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, and enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a strong, corrosive acid that reacts violently with bases, as well as with many compounds causing fire and explosion hazard. HF can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, through the skin and by ingestion. It is corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Inhalation may cause lung oedema. Exposure to high levels may result in death.

EPA will keep you informed. Do you want to be in our Mail List?
To receive fact sheets and public notices about the American Plating Company please contact Lilibeth Serrano, Community Involvement Coordinator at 206-553-1388 or

Other EPA Contact:
Marc Callaghan, EPA On-Scene Coordinator, 206-790-6508 or