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    News

    South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board Will Meet In LB On Nov. 4 To Address Port-Related Air Pollution


    (Nov. 3, 2005) -- With increasing recognition of the seriousness of polluted air related to operations at the Ports of LB and L.A., the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD)'s governing board will be holding its first regular board meeting outside its headquarters in more than 25 years in Long Beach this Friday, November 4.

    The formal agency meeting -- which will take place in the LB City Council Chamber (333 W. Ocean Blvd.) from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. -- will include a 90 minute segment inviting public comment on air pollution related to the ports, which the agency calls the number one fixed source of air pollution in the region.

    AQMD indicates that at the meeting, Board Chair William Burke "is expected to announce several new initiatives aimed at reducing emissions at the ports."

    In February 2005, a two-day LB conference (organized by Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, a partnership of USC and UCLA scientists funded by the National Institute of Health Sciences based at USC's Keck School of Medicine) heard evidence that levels of air pollution currently experienced in the L.A.-LB region are associated with illnesses and deaths, while the LB-L.A. Ports simultaneously receive taxpayer subsidies that conceal their true costs and encourage further growth.

    Among the conference participants was AQMD Executive Officer Barry Wallerstein, D. Env., who displayed an air pollution measurement strip that, when new, resembled white cheesecloth. He then displayed a strip that had been outside, exposed to LB's air at the AQMD monitor in Bixby Knolls for 24 hours...below. (Digital photo from AQMD; sample taken Dec. 17, 2003, 3500 block Long Beach Blvd.; clean border areas (left and top) reflect areas shielded from LB's air):

    Port pollution conference, Feb. 25-26/05

    The Nov. 4 AQMD board meeting in LB will deal with a regular AQMD agenda from 9:00 a.m. until about 11:30 a.m., during which the Board will consider adopting three regulations affecting cement plants, refinery flares and new facilities emitting toxic air contaminants near schools. A September 2005 L.A. power outage triggered flaring that sent black smoke plumes into the air from several refineries; a few weeks later, a malfunction at another refinery emitted flared gases that sent a rotten egg odor across much of the southbay and LB.

    The regular AQMD agenda will be followed by the Chairman's remarks and the special public comment period from about 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    In addition to impacts from LB's city-operated Port and adjacent L.A. port, LB area residents are also impacted by their city-operated Airport, nearby refineries and truck, train and freeway traffic (with four freeways running through the area).

    In 2001, AQMD produced its historic MATES-II study (Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study) modeling increased cancer risks in the area; it included a map indicating the worst impacted areas are along a path up the 710 freeway from the Ports. LBReport.com has maintained a link to the MATES-II study's salient materials for nearly four years. A MATES-III study is now underway.

    Last month, LBReport.com reported that the CA Air Resources Board had released a draft study modeling increased cancer risks and noting detrimental particulate health effects across LB and in surrounding areas attributable to Port operations.

    In 2004, SCAQMD supported legislation by then-Assemblyman, now State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) that sought to adopt baselines for Port-related airborne toxics to prevent Port pollution from growing beyond current levels. The bill was supported by the LB City Council but was opposed by the Port of LB. It was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. State Senator Lowenthal has reintroduced the bill which is currently pending.

    As previously reported by LBReport.com, AQMD opposed a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) between the CA Air Resources Board and CA's major railroads. AQMD said the MOU fails to reflect disproportionate local and regional impacts from the LB-LA port complex and applies weaker statewide rules that undermines SCAQMD enforcement and tougher future rules and legislation. CARB and the RRs say the MOU will produce prompt emission reductions without lengthy rulemaking, legislation or court challenges. The LB City Council opposed the RR MOU. The Port of LB took no public position on the RR MOU...but the "CA Association of Port Authorities" -- whose current president (as first reported by LBReport.com) is Port of LB Executive Director Richard Steinke -- supported the RR MOU.

    Refinery outage Sept 12/05AQMD governing board action on proposed refinery flaring rules would be one of the first in the nation regarding oil refinery flare pollution (photo right from Sept. 12, 2005 event, visible from north Wrigley area, triggered by L.A. power outage). However the Wilmington-based Coalition For A Safe Environment, headed by veteran activist Jesse Marquez, is pushing for tougher regulations than AQMD staff proposes.

    "We need the AQMD Board to protect the publicís health and safety first, not the billion dollar rich oil companies," Mr. Marquez said in a written release. "This board vote will tell us if they are going to once again sell-out the public and negotiate a less stringent Oil Refinery Flare Rule 1118. Technology exists today to eliminate flaring, oil refineries just do not want to spend the money and now that we have researched their profits we now know the truth that they can afford to protect us better."

    The AQMD meeting is open to the public...and will also be webcast at AQMD webcast and cablecast on LB Charter Cable channel 8 (LBTV).

    What: South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board meeting, first regularly scheduled meeting outside the agency's HQ in over 25 years, to solicit public comment on air pollution issues related to the ports of LB and L.A.

    Where: LB City Council Chambers @ Long Beach City Hall, 333 West Ocean Blvd.

    When: Friday, Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (Regular agenda from 9 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m.; Chairman's remarks and special public comment period from about 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)


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