Public input solicited for proposed Valero refinery fence pollution monitoring plan – Daily Breeze

Regional air pollution watchdog released long-awaited draft plan presented by the Valero Wilmington refinery to monitor emissions harmful to the environment and human health and invites the public to comment until February 6 on the adequacy of the proposal

The South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted the rule requiring monitoring of approximately 20 chemicals at the seven South Bay refineries in November 2017 and has worked on its implementation since then by holding in-depth meetings with the community and industry officials. Plans proposed at refineries in Torrance, El Segundo, Carson and Wilmington must be finalized and approved by the agency before monitoring begins on January 1 at the latest.

The AQMD has asked refineries to start monitoring excess emissions and chemicals that factories may release in surrounding neighborhoods and communities, largely to provide more information to the public. No local refinery currently uses a fence monitoring system.

The AQMD’s action came in response to a deluge of public complaints about excessive flaring, which can produce tall columns of sweltering black smoke visible for miles and can cause respiratory and other health problems. . The problem was particularly acute at Torrance in 2016-2017 when emissions of several pollutants from refineries repeatedly exceeded allowable limits, observed the AQMD.

Other refineries, including Torrance, submitted their plans last month.

Valero’s plan

Valero’s plan calls for the 135,000 barrel refinery to install three monitoring stations along the refinery perimeter.

Although the refinery is surrounded by industrial sites, there are also eight schools within 2,500 meters of the refinery, according to the draft plan. The nearest houses are about 800 meters from the factory.

A weather station will also be installed to measure wind speed and direction, so the community will know which neighborhoods could be affected by chemical emissions and discharges.

The fence monitoring system uses what is called open path technology to take air samples.

This involves monitoring stations that project a beam of light along a path that measures the average concentration of pollutants.

Jesse Marquez, executive director of Wilmington-based Communities for a Safe Environment, who plans to submit a comment letter to AQMD on the fence monitoring plan on behalf of a coalition of a dozen environmental organizations and communities, called the proposed system “unacceptable.”

“The draft plan does not describe the types and methods of delivering public notification (if published),” he said via email. “The public wants the fastest notification of an immediate danger to their health and life.”

Valero officials did not respond to multiple messages left at its Texas headquarters and the local refinery seeking comment.

Some of the 20 or so chemical refineries responsible for monitoring already have separate and extensive systems capable of detecting them for safety reasons.

For example, refineries were required to install a benzene monitoring system in January.

The Valero and Torrance refineries, the only two in the state to use highly toxic hydrofluoric acid, also have several emergency monitoring and safety systems for the chemical.

Both use a modified version of HF containing an additive designed to reduce the size of the toxic cloud on the ground – but not its toxicity – that occurs when the chemical is accidentally released. AQMD officials have said that the level of concentration used by refineries provides additional “certain, but uncertain” safety benefits.

In a separate report released before Friday’s Air Quality District Board of Directors meeting, the agency said there had been five releases of HF at the two refineries since 2017, including three at Torrance in the past two months.

The two refineries together store about 100,000 gallons of HF, and the AQMD said a two-inch hole in a tank could release 1,000 gallons of the chemical in just two minutes. Tests have shown that a release of 1,000 gallons can lead to lethal concentrations of the chemical for two miles, the agency said.

About 245,000 people live within three miles of the Torrance refinery and 153,000 others live within three miles of the Valero refinery.

The agency is formulating a rule to phase out the use of the chemical if it cannot be demonstrated to AQMD officials that the risk to the public can be reduced to an acceptable level through measures. additional security. The proposed rule will be discussed again on Friday.

The safety of hydrofluoric acid has been the subject of public debate at local, regional and state levels since a major explosion in February 2015 literally rocked Torrance, shut the plant down and spiked gas prices when the refinery belonged to ExxonMobil. New Jersey-based PBF Energy announced in September 2015 that it had reached an agreement to purchase the refinery.

A subsequent report from the US Chemical Safety Board said the explosion almost led to a catastrophic release of the toxin that could have killed or injured thousands of people when a 40-ton piece of debris nearly fell on a tank containing of HF, urging activists to call for a ban on its use.

The Torrance Refinery Action Alliance, an advocacy group that has called for a local ban on the use of HF, criticized the draft similar plan released by AQMD for the Torrance plant that does not call for HF monitoring of the fence.

“Each refinery boundary should have HF monitors providing full coverage at the fence so that no HF plumes can drift undetected,” TRAA co-founder Sally Hayati said via email.

Still, officials at PBF Energy have said they plan to follow the new rule when it is passed by AQMD.

“We are monitoring the modified hydrofluoric acid and we intend to comply with Rule 1180,” said PBF Energy spokeswoman Gesuina Lafayette, referring to the official number of the AQMD rule requiring monitoring of the fencing.

Written comments on Valero’s draft plan can be submitted by email to or mailed to Dr Andrea Polidori, Atmospheric Measurements Manager, South Coast Air Quality Management District, 21865 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar CA 91765.

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Maryland’s air quality monitoring plan reignites poultry battle

The Maryland Department of the Environment said the state would launch an effort to monitor the air quality around Delmarva chicken coops, but critics are already opposing the project.

It is the latest move in a multi-year battle between the multibillion-dollar poultry industry and activists who say these farms are affecting the health of neighboring communities.

The new plan, the Lower East Coast Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Project, will include two monitoring stations to be built on the Lower East Coast.

They will measure ammonia and particulates for one year, one upstream and one downstream of the barns.

It will be funded in partnership with Delmarva Poultry Industry and the Campbell Foundation.

“It’s a good start to getting data, real monitoring data,” Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment said Tuesday.

But the plan has drawn criticism from those who say its scope may be too narrow to provide useful information.

“My biggest question when I hear about what they have come up with is how representative of the whole industry could that be? Said Keeve Nachman, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Large, concentrated animal feed operations anger neighboring residents.

East Coast activists have been at the forefront of a campaign for the Community Healthy Air Act, legislation that would set out a plan to assess air pollution and the health impacts of large-scale operations. animal feed, including the poultry industry.

The plan failed to make it through the Maryland General Assembly last year and has yet to be presented in the 2019 session.

But supporters say they are preparing to present the bill to the Senate in February and hope for its success.

Following:Perdue Foods Fun Shaped Chicken Nuggets recalled in Maryland, other states

They are uninfluenced by the new plan, claiming it is a ploy to distract from the larger bill.

“If Maryland fails to re-pass the CHAA in the next legislative session, the state will send a heartbreaking message to some of its most vulnerable residents,” Gabby Ross of Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFO said in a statement. written.

Critics raise issues with project funding

Critics of the poultry industry dispute the involvement of Delmarva’s poultry industry in the funding.

DPI was a staunch opponent of the Community Healthy Air Act, saying the bill was unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer money.

The trade association and the Campbell Foundation, an environmentally focused family grant foundation, will provide more than $ 500,000 to provide monitoring equipment for the new plan.

DPI will not be involved in the collection or analysis of the data, according to Grumbles, who called concerns about a conflict of interest “unfounded.”

“I am delighted that we have a constructive partnership for the funding of surveillance equipment,” he said. “It does not affect the results or the way we interpret the data.”

Perdue Farms is committed to making more room for its poultry, including these day-old chicks.

DPI has been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment for several months, said James Fisher, the association’s communications manager.

He said they decided to partner with the agency because they feared DPI’s air quality results might not be widely endorsed by the public.

“We see this as a chance to add transparency to conversations about air quality on the east coast,” said Fisher.

But environmentalists and activists have already expressed concern over whether a plan that has been worked out in any capacity with the poultry industry can be trusted to provide reliable data.

“My main concern is that we are not getting the data we need to understand whether the air emissions from these facilities are having the harmful effects that we think they are,” said Michele Merkel, co-director of food and some water. Justice at Food & Water Watch.

Years of contention over poultry health impact claims

Chicken consumption in the United States has skyrocketed in recent decades, overtaking beef as the most consumed meat, according to a 2016 study from the Pew Research Center.

And tensions over the growing poultry industry on the east coast have been going on for years.

The health impacts of large poultry farms require even more research, Nachman said.

He worked on a recent study in Pennsylvania who found that people living in areas with more and larger poultry farms had an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with community acquired pneumonia.

Local east coast poultry regulation advocates say farms are increasing rates of asthma and lung disease due to reduced air quality.

Following:Poultry businesses assess losses and help rescue hurricanes

Following:Poultry industry: Accomack producers take care of groundwater permits

Living near a poultry farm in Princess Anne, farmer Lisa Inzerillo said she had struggled with the impacts on air quality.

“I have never opened my window since the place got there,” she said. “I can’t go out when the air is so heavy that it falls on your clothes, I can’t hang out my clothes.”

However, the poultry industry often reports a 2006 study which showed no significant difference in particulate matter between measurements taken at the control sites and a broiler farm in Georgia.

Recent improvements to vegetative buffers and better litter quality in poultry houses to control ammonia have reduced impacts on air quality, Fisher said.

“We firmly believe that chicken farms are not harmful to air quality,” he said.

Project details to come

The plan will measure ammonia and particulates at both stations.

These stations will be chosen over the next few months based on “a variety of factors to ensure the data is useful and meaningful,” said Grumbles.

He said the data to be measured was chosen in response to concerns raised by voters.

Cost-shared funding for measures that reduce nutrient runoff from farms is essential if the Inland Bays watershed is to meet water quality objectives.  Chicken farmers are doing their part by installing measures like the heavy-duty pad shown with this chicken coop.

But focusing on just those two things could be a problem as there is still a lot to learn about the impact of poultry on health issues in neighboring communities, said Nachman, who testified in 2018 on behalf of Community Healthy. Air Act.

“It is difficult to know exactly which agent would be responsible,” he said. “The first step is to understand the levels of these contaminants in the communities.”

He would like measurements of volatile organic compounds and some pathogens to be included.

But it’s hard to say how viable this new project will be without further details of the plan, he said, adding that he was concerned it might not go through the same vigorous process of public input and peer review that the Community Health Air Act called for. .

Grumbles said it wouldn’t.

“We are going to make sure that our monitoring experts, our air quality regulators make the right choices and get the public’s opinion on the location and other aspects of the plan,” he said. . “Over the next two months, everything will fall into place.”

Following:Perdue Foods Fun Shaped Chicken Nuggets recalled in Maryland, other states

Following:Women take the lead at Delmarva Poultry Industry

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Pingdom to end its free website monitoring plan on February 6

Join the leaders of online gaming at GamesBeat Summit Next on November 9-10. Learn more about what comes next.

Pingdom, a popular website monitoring and performance management service, will soon cease welcoming non-paying users. In an email sent to users today, Pingdom announced that it will end its free tier on February 6.

The move, which unsurprisingly upset many users, comes five years after Pingdom was acquired by SolarWinds, a company based in Austin, Texas. In its email, Pingdom said it intended to focus its resources and investments on the next phase of product development.

Founded in 2007, Pingdom attracted more than 500,000 users from 200 countries in seven years, prior to its acquisition. Several large companies including Google, Spotify, Microsoft, Twitter, Slack, Evernote, Mailchimp, Github, Square, Instagram and others became his clients.

The service has also attracted a number of individual customers and mom-and-pop stores. Through the free tier plan, Pingdom offered users the ability to track uptime, monitor performance, and receive text alerts for a single website. For individuals and small businesses, the free plan naturally fits the bill. (At the time of acquisition, SolarWinds had noted that he was committed to building Pingdom for businesses of all sizes.)


If you are a Pingdom user looking for a free alternative, there are a handful of services you can try. Here are three options:

  • Status Cake offers 10 uptime tests every 5 minutes and a page speed test every day. It counts Microsoft, Netflix and GoDaddy among its customers.
  • Pingbreak is still in beta, but lets you track SSL and response time. He checks the results with an external agency. To date, it does not allow users to sign up without a Twitter account.
  • Availability robot offers five minute watch intervals and 50 watch instances per day. You can also consult two months of newspapers. Uptime Robot counts Expedia, Fandango and Staples among its customers.

Pingdom urges free users to become paid subscribers. The company offers several plans ranging from $ 15 per month to $ 395 per month for those with business level needs. (It also offers annual packages with introductory discounts.)


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