In response to this upsetting finding, Portland residents founded Neighbors for Clean Air. They argued that “the most visible industrial polluter, Esco Corporation, should reduce or control its hazardous air pollution.”
In 2017, the Willamette Week reported that “In its final year of operation, Esco, located on the edge of a densely populated residential neighborhood just six blocks from Chapman Elementary School, emitted 328,000 tons of pollutants, including 54 pounds of lead.”
Although the Portland plant is now closed, Endeavour remains an investor and Esco announced plans to move the air-polluting work to Esco factories in Mississippi and in Taiyuan, China.
Esco also produces supplies for Canada’s oil sands extraction project where, according to a 2010 Oregonian article, “gigantic shovel machines claw out tarry glop, loading 400-ton truckloads for processing into crude oil.”
The article also quoted an Esco executive saying, “We made a lot of investment in the oil sands to become the predominant supplier of wear parts. It’s going to be a $50 million business before too long.”
Oil sands, which are also known as tar sands, are a sludgy deposit of sand, clay, water, and sticky, black bitumen (used to make synthetic oil) that lies beneath the earth. Extracting and converting oil sands into usable fuel is a hugely expensive energy- and water-intensive endeavor that involves strip mining giant swaths of land and creating loads of toxic waste and air and water pollution.