Santa Barbara County Air Quality News May/June 1998
Index of Topics in Past Issues
On the Air
is a bimonthly newsletter published by the Planning and Community Assistance Section of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. For more information on items in this newsletter, or to be added to our print subscription list, contact Bobbie Bratz at [email protected] or (805) 961-8890.
In April, county air quality monitoring stations recorded ozone levels exceeding (higher than) the federal standard on two days. In all of 1997, the cleanest year on record in Santa Barbara County, the county?s air only exceeded the federal standard one day.
On April 21, the federal one-hour ozone standard was exceeded at the Las Flores Canyon monitoring station. The state ozone standard, a standard that is more protective of public health, was exceeded at monitoring stations in the following locations: Las Flores Canyon, Carpinteria, El Capitan, UCSB West Campus, Lompoc, Paradise Road, Santa Ynez, and Goleta. The Lompoc, Goleta, and UCSB stations did not exceed the state ozone standard in all of 1997.
On April 22, 1998, the federal and state ozone standards were exceeded at the Paradise Road monitoring station in Santa Barbara County. This represents the first exceedance of the federal standard at the Paradise station since 1991.
“Transport of pollution from the Los Angeles Air Basin may have been involved in the April exceedances in Santa Barbara County,” noted Joseph C. Cassmassi, Senior Meteorologist at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which monitors air in the greater Los Angeles area. He added, “Pollution generated within Santa Barbara County contributed as well.”
Cassmassi noted there were no exceedances of the federal ozone standard in areas covered by SCAQMD or the Ventura air district on April 21 or 22. Los Angeles Basin ozone levels almost reached the federal standard on April 19, but were lower on April 20. However, levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), an ozone-forming pollutant, were elevated in the Basin on April 20, the day before the exceedances in Santa Barbara County. Cassmassi explained: “A strong southeasterly wind aloft, followed by coastal eddies probably meant that ozone-forming pollutants from the LA Basin were transported up the coast.”
Tom Murphy, coordinator of the APCD 1998 Clean Air Plan, noted that the upper air sounder located at Goleta airport recorded a strong southeasterly wind flow above 1,000 feet on April 21. Said Murphy, “It was interesting because the surface flow conditions were generally calm. I thought that the pollution might all be locally generated. But when I looked at the data from the upper air sounder at the airport, I saw that pollution transport could be involved.”
The upper air sounder, funded and installed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), uses sound waves to monitor wind speed and direction and virtual temperatures up to 4-5,000 feet in the atmosphere. Data from the Goleta sounder is available in real time on the NOAA website at http://www7.etl.noaa.gov/data.
Murphy noted that pollution transport goes both ways: “We contribute pollution on a daily basis to other areas that are downwind of us. We?re all part of the Southern California ozone problem; our cars pollute as much as anyone else?s. Most of the time our air is cleaned by the sea breeze. It?s only on relatively rare occasions that we have southeasterly winds develop the kind of situation we experienced in April.”
Cassmassi expects the pattern that occurred in April to recur, “but more likely in August or September, following a strong episode in the Los Angeles Basin.” Cassmassi is Chairman of the Meteorological Working Group of the Southern California Ozone Study (SCOS), a joint effort by area air pollution agencies, including the APCD, as well as other state and federal agencies, to study ozone formation in Southern California as a regional problem. SCOS data analysis and modeling, ongoing over the next several years, will provide further insight into pollution transport issues.
Cassmassi noted that overall, ozone levels were unusually low in 1997 due to the El Ni? weather conditions. He expects levels to be higher for the 1998 ozone season, closer to 1996 levels: “We will likely return to a more typical weather pattern for this summer?and that translates into more opportunities for smog formation.”
APCD Engineering Supervisor Craig Strommen and Inspector Terry Snyder (above) prepared documentation for a lawsuit against independent energy consultant E. Bruce Falkenhagen. Falkenhagen illegally operated power generation machinery without required air pollution control equipment or permits over a period of six years, and lied to the APCD to conceal the operation. According to the documentation, including Falkenhagen?s own records, electricity generated was sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company for more than $800,000, and hundreds of tons of pollution were released that could have been avoided if controls had been in place. In the lawsuit settlement filed by the County District Attorney?s (DA?s) Office April 14, Falkenhagen agreed to pay the APCD and the DA $100,000 over ten years, and to issue a public statement and apology, which was published in the Santa Maria Times and the Santa Barbara News-Press on May 3rd.
One of three technical divisions at APCD, the Major Source Division (MSD) permits and inspects 93 facilities in Santa Barbara County. While these represent only about 11% of the total number of permitted facilities in the County, they produce approximately 80% of the total emissions from stationary pollution sources. The MSD also oversees emission source testing, performs computer modeling of emissions, develops air pollution control rules, and manages the federal operating permit program (also known as the Title V Part 70 permit program), which covers the 27 largest air pollution sources in the county.
Says MSD Manager Terry Dressler, “We work at building strong cooperative relationships with the companies we regulate. Three inspectors and seven engineers cannot, by themselves, keep all of these large and complex facilities in compliance. So we work in partnership with the environmental professionals within these large companies, and assist them in designing and managing their compliance programs.” He adds, “Our greatest challenge is to be able to take the time to provide good customer service, in communicating and negotiating with our industry partners?even as we work on streamlining our processes and keeping our costs down.”
“We?ve been streamlining our Part 70 permit process by consolidating the federal Part 70 permits with scheduled APCD facility permit reevaluations. When the EPA changed the classification of this county to a ?serious? ozone nonattainment area, the major source threshold for two of the major pollutants changed. This means there are approximately 10 sources that will need to submit Part 70 applications and obtain federal permits, in addition to the 17 we had already.”
–Brian Shafritz, Air Quality Engineering Supervisor
“Many of the sources we regulate are required to test their permitted equipment regularly to make sure pollution levels from the equipment operations are within permit limits. It’s important to have the data on actual emissions and stack gas flow rates. I review a source test plan first, to make sure the EPA-approved test procedures will be followed during the testing. Then I go out in the field to verify that the source is following the approved test plan. Afterwards I review test results to verify compliance with permitted emission limits.”
–Vijay Pawar, Air Quality Engineer involved in observing emissions tests at a variety of facilities permitted by APCD.
Following are the highlights of the April and May APCD Board meetings:
–Adopted resolution proclaiming May 1998 as “Clean Air Month” and May 19, 1998 as “Bike to Work Day.”
–Approved grant agreements for purchase of new low-emissions booster pump engines with Charles Cossa and Sons, Inc., C and V Farms, Inc., and Bill Giorgi of Nojoqui Falls Ranch.
–Received a briefing regarding the Marine Vessel Engine Re-powering (MERC) program.
–Approved concept of re-establishment of an old car buyback program.
–Received report on results of customer service surveys conducted on APCD permits and inspections.
–Approved grant agreement with LABCO for purchase of new low-emissions booster pump engine.
–Approved re-establishment of old car buyback program, to be funded with $ 250,000 from the Innovative Technologies trust fund.
–Held the first of two hearings on the proposed APCD FY 98/99 Budget.
–Approved amendments to Civil Service Rule 11.
Visitors to Earth Day in downtown Santa Barbara saw several electric vehicles (EVs) on display, and learned about APCD?s incentive program. APCD provides $ 5,000 towards the lease or purchase of a new EV to be registered and operated in Santa Barbara County. The offer is open to County residents, both individuals and fleet buyers. For more information, call Gary Hoffman, 961-8818. Funds are provided by APCD and the California Energy Commission.
APCD and the American Lung Association (ALA) also took information on air pollution and lung-health to Earth Day in April and to several area Farmers Markets in May. ALA representatives showed booth visitors healthy and diseased human lungs, while APCD staff discussed APCD?s monitoring network and demonstrated equipment that tests hydrocarbon levels in fumes from various consumer products.
|ATC Applications Received||6||9||13|
|ATC Permits Issued||1||3||4|
|PTO Applications Received||8||6||4|
|PTO Permits Issued||3||3||5|
|Notices of Violation Issued||13||31||30|
|–Administrative Infractions Documented (subset of above)||2||5||4|