We are America's oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 840 members in Clallam and Jefferson counties and 23,500 in Washington State. Our mission:To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;
To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and
To use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
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Meetings, Events, and News
Meetings and Events
All Sierra Club members are welcome to attend the Executive Committee meetings.
Announcement! Check out the North Olympic Group's new Meetup site for the latest on planned outings and events. Click here to join.
February 13, 1:00 PM - Next Executive Committee Meeting:
The North Olympic Group Executive Committee meeting will be held Thursday, February 13th, 1:00 PM, in Port Townsend. All Sierra Club members are welcome. Contact Monica Fletcher for details. All Sierra Club members are welcome. Contact Monica Fletcher for details.
ULTRAFINE PARTICULATE AIR MONITORING SUMMARY
By Bob Sextro
Air monitoring for ultrafine particulates, those smaller than 0.1 to 0.3 microns, is coming very soon to both Clallam and Jefferson counties and virtually nowhere else in the country. We can thank some of our local North Olympic Group (NOG) activists, the Director and scientists of our Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), and the work of our 24th District State Representatives, Tharinger and Van de Wege, and State Senator Hargrove for providing the funding in this year’s State budget for this special air monitoring.
As described in the NOG May-June newsletter, we wanted to focus the air monitoring on those particulates that have the potential for the greatest negative public health consequences, the ultrafines. Apparently our elected representatives and ORCAA heard our request and agreed. As part of the recent budget negotiations the State has funded a collaborative study (between ORCAA and Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington) that will begin sometime this fall and last well into 2014, perhaps beyond.
ORCAA summarized the following in their air monitoring proposal to the State legislature with regards to ultrafine particulates and public health: "Recently two new biomass cogeneration plants were approved for installation on the Olympic Peninsula, one at Nippon Paper Industries in Port Angeles and the other at Port Townsend Paper Company in Port Townsend. Both mills have been burning woody biomass as waste for several decades. Construction of these co-generation plants requires installation of emission control technology predicted to decrease the total PM2.5 emitted, despite increasing the mass of fuel burned by a factor of three. PM2.5 is the mass concentration of atmospheric particles with diameters less than 2.5 microns. Other gaseous emissions such as Volatile Organic Compounds and NOx will roughly increase by 35 and 18 tons per year respectively. Despite these pollution controls, and maybe because of them, there is concern that although PM2.5 will decrease, the number of ultrafine particles, which may be more hazardous to respiratory and cardio health, will increase. Research has shown that when PM2.5 decreases, co-emitted gases like SO2 and NOx have less surface area on which to condense and are thus more likely to homogeneously nucleate ultrafine particles downwind of the emission site. Despite these concerns, there is very little data that show the impact of biomass cogeneration plants on local and regional air quality, including PM2.5 and ultrafine particulate".
"Further, some of the scientific questions to be addressed in the ultrafine monitoring study are:
1) How will air quality respond to the change in emissions from the facility?
2) What is the distribution of PM2.5 in residential areas of both communities?
3) Is there evidence of an increase in ultrafine particulate matter from the expanded facilities?
4) What is the cause of the odors in the Port Townsend area and what can be done about this?
5) Which neighborhoods are most impacted by these facilities?
6) How do ultrafine particulate emissions from the facilities change in the winter relative to the summer?"
NOG is anticipating that the study plan will be available for our review in the near future and that the scientists performing the study will deliver presentation(s) in early 2014 to the communities in both Clallam and Jefferson Counties. We believe this expanded and special air monitoring study can potentially provide us the data necessary to determine how "safe" our air is and to start to understand "ultrafine safe levels" on the long road to helping the US EPA promulgate national clean air standards for ultrafines. More details, as they become available, perhaps including periodic data summaries, will be posted on ORCAA’s web site at www.orcaa.org/air/ultrafine-study-proposal. The report of this special study will also be summarized in this newsletter when it becomes available.