Short Term Air Toxics Benchmarks

On June 30th 2010, when the public comment period closed for the state’s decision on new air toxics benchmarks for mercury, manganese and lead, Neighbors for Clean Air delivered over 500 signatures demanding DEQ address short term spikes in toxic air emissions from regulated polluters.

Air Quality administrator, Andy Ginsburg met Neighbors for Clean Air members and State Representative Mitch Greenlick at the door of DEQ headquarters to accept our petition.¬† At that time, Ginsburg promised the state was going to address short-term benchmarks in the “near future.”

Well, apparently that day has come in the form of a meeting DEQ is calling:  Air Toxics Science Advisory Committee Meeting to Evaluate Less Than Annual Air Toxics Benchmarks Feasibility.

These benchmarks are the first step in our effort to see real change that will protect our neighborhoods and children from toxic air pollution emitted by regulated polluters. And here are the top 3 reasons why this is a critical  component of the campaign to reform how DEQ protects the public from regulated sources of toxic air pollution:

1. Compliance with annualized averages is not adequate protection of public health because it misses the dangerous spikes in emissions that children can be particularly vulnerable to during critical phases of development, and because the science behind this is just beginning to understand the synergistic impacts of multiple toxicants on critical stages of children’s development.

2. Currently our air toxics regulation allows polluters to have emissions spikes of dangerous toxicants like arsenic, manganese, chromium, and lead that hourly can register up to 300x the current benchmarks, and still be considered in compliance.

3. Currently our air toxics regulation allowed ESCO to have a complete failure of all baghouses for a 10-day period, which meant that unknown quantities of unfiltered uncaptured emissions were released directly into the neighborhood and still this did not trigger any violation of the emissions limits, since they are calculated on annualized averages set high enough to ensure that major upsets do not put the facility in violation.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO!

  • Contact Governor Kitzhaber with the message that we want to see Oregon act now on meaningful air toxics benchmarks to protect our children from short term emissions spikes and plant failures.
  • Attend the meeting DEQ is calling: Air Toxics Science Advisory Committee Meeting to Evaluate Less Than Annual Air Toxics Benchmarks Feasibility
    Tuesday, April 19th 5-7pm, Oregon DEQ Headquarters, 811 SW 6th Ave.
  • Urge your friends, family and colleagues to sign the petition.

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