DEQ chief resigns over ‘health concerns’

Citing his health, Dick Pedersen announced his resignation.

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Pedersen, the agency’s director since 2008, announced his resignation Tuesday. According to a statement from Gov.Kate Brown‘s office, his departure will be effective by mid-March. The statement said Pedersen, a DEQ employee since 1996, needs to “tend to immediate health concerns.”

“Over his many years in state government, Dick has provided steady and dedicated leadership,” Gov. Brown said in the statement. “I am grateful for his service to the people of Oregon, and I will miss him as a trusted colleague and friend.”

 (READ MORE: Portland Business Journal)

David Monro, a Portland air quality manager, has also left the DEQ. His departure was planned before Pedersen’s announcement, according to Oregon Live.

The departures come with the agency still trying to get in front of revelations that Southeast Portland’s air is more toxic than anyone knew, nearly a month after the problem was announced. 

The agency was slow to respond to questions, delayed releasing documents and maps showing how widespread potential pollution hotspots were and struggled to coordinate with other government agencies. Emails obtained byThe Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday revealedthat Pedersen’s agency failed to notify Portland Public Schools for a month about a soil test at Cleveland High School that found high levels of arsenic and lead contamination.

Since the Portland air pollution problem was revealed Feb. 3, Pedersen repeatedly shunned the spotlight. He didn’t take the stage at a Feb. 9 community meeting where more than 750 worried Portland residents hurled criticism at his agency. Monro instead took the stage, leaving many key questions unanswered.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

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