DEP Announces Air Quality Awareness Week

The Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township, souce: http://energyindepth.org/

The Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township

On Monday the DEP announced that this week is “Air Quality Awareness Week”.

In a press release the DEP urges people to “take proactive steps” to improve air quality, including “conserve electricity” and “ensure that tires are properly inflated to use less gasoline”.

In a recently submitted letter to the editor, SOC Volunteer Deirdre Lally urges the DEP to take proactive steps to by giving us accurate information about a threat to our air quality in Columbia County:

On Tuesday, April 21st Michael Lester ran a story in the Press Enterprise on the proposed compressor station site in Buckhorn, related to the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Project. The article states “The construction and operation of the proposed facilities will not have a significant impact on human health or the environment.”

This compressor station would run at 40,000 Horsepower. I would like to relate this to a similar compressor station operating in Lycoming County.

The Barto Station runs at approximately 20,000 brake horsepower per day. After analyzing air quality impacts of Nitrous Oxide, levels were found to have exceeded permitted levels within up to a mile of the station. (source: http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/File/MineDrill/Marcellus/CAC_EmissionsNO2_CompressorBarto_20130124.pdf)

A press release from January 30th, 2013 states that the station created pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards. Clean Air Council, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit working to protect everyone’s right to breath clean air, has repeatedly requested that the PA DEP require modeling for larger compressor stations to ensure that they do not cause pollution that will exceed federal standards, and the DEP responded that because these sources are “minor sources” of emissions they are not required to perform modeling.

The real and documented hazards of air pollutants can cause and worsen respiratory illnesses as well as form low-level ozone, or smog. Hazardous Air Pollutants and Volatile Organic Compounds typically found in compressor station emissions include benzene, toluene and formaldehyde, which can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. The proximity of this proposed facility to homes and public centers presents acute risk to young peoples’ developing lungs and adults with respiratory or pulmonary issues. Worsened air quality and further industrialization can also negatively impact property values.

Cumulatively, emissions from shale gas infrastructure have substantial public health ramifications. In a 2013 study, Mckenzie et al. found elevated risk of birth defects in populations residing within a one-mile radius of gas infrastructure.

The PA DEP stated to me yesterday that because this station is electric-drive, no air quality permit is needed. The residents of Columbia County deserve to know what hazardous pollutants Williams is planning on throwing into our atmosphere. I ask that the PA DEP, Williams, and the Press inform our county of the truth regarding these potential pollutants so we can all form accurate opinions and take the best action for everyone moving forward.

Please visit cleanair.org/resources for more information on shale gas infrastructure.

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