Tacoma Urbanist

Dec. 30, 2007 at 12:22am

Pollution Hurting Tacoma's Health and Tacoma's Image

A couple of weeks ago, the TNT reported that Tacoma will be the only area in the State of Washington to fail the Clean Air Standard Test:

Even so, state officials still planned Tuesday to name Tacoma as the only place in Washington that fails to meet revised Clean Air Act standards for soot, Preston said. Residents of Yakima and Vancouver, Wash., also suffer from excessive air pollution, Preston said, but officials don’t have sufficient evidence to recommend regulatory action.

Yet, in a December 7th article, every entity identified as a source of pollution wants to keep their area out of the regulatory/monitoring zone:

The Port of Tacoma:
 

Gary Brackett, the chamber’s business and trade development manager, said his group endorses the county’s proposal to exclude the Tideflats, Nalley Valley and the Port of Tacoma’s Frederickson industrial area from the “nonattainment” zone because possible stepped-up regulations could impede business expansion.

Quasim also told the health board the “nonattainment” designation “could hurt industry and commerce and economic development and traffic in and out of the port.”

The South End

In the South End, Fred Brookshier, vice chairman of the South End Neighborhood Council, said he was surprised that county officials had chosen to recommend a “nonattainment” designation focused on some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. “I’m upset with the county for doing it the way they do it. They ought to be working with us instead of against us,” he said.

In addition to the health problems caused by pollution, having Tacoma repeatedly being classified as having the most pollution in the state hurts the city's ability to attract people to live and work in Tacoma.

Yet, the problem isn't in the designation.  Its the pollution itself.

Sheilding the Port of Tacoma from pollution standards would be the worst decision possible and lower their willingness to clean up their operations especially with all the proposals to expand their operations.

Perhaps all of the effort on fighting the pollution classification and on "branding" consultants could be spent cleaning up the air?

The South End was recently awarded some grants by the state to convert some of the wood stoves to reduce the amount of soot produced.  That may help a bit.

When will the Port of Tacoma believe pollution is a serious of enough of a problem to take additional substantive steps to reduce it?


comments [8]  |  posted under tacoma, Washington

Comments

by KevinFreitas on 12/30/2007 @ 9:12am
We are all one Tacoma. South, North, Nalley Valley, and Tideflats. Air pollution doesn't at all understand these area divisions and if any standards are slacked we'll all be worse from it. The Port and all other industry in town need to be proud of their achievemet in bringing business to Tacoma but they would be even more proud to do so as the best possible stewards of our local air and land quality as they can be. Any business that doesn't want to abide by this may not be a business we want in the first place.

by Erik on 12/30/2007 @ 11:47am
The Port and all other industry in town need to be proud of their achievemet in bringing business to Tacoma but they would be even more proud to do so as the best possible stewards of our local air and land quality as they can be.

The Port has certainly taken some steps.

On their page, they speak of their efforts at environmental compliance:

In 1998, the Port instituted an Environmental Compliance Program to ensure that local, state and federal environmental regulations and policies are observed in Port activities and on Port facilities:

www.portoftacoma.com/aboutus.cfm?sub=28&...

Yet, to keep them out of the monitoring zone would just set the bar lower. The EPA appears to want to monitor the Port as they realize that it is a major pollution source.


by KevinFreitas on 12/30/2007 @ 12:22pm
The Port (and others) should look toward alternative sources of juice for all their hauling equipment and allowing docked ships to plug in rather than sit a churn diesel to stay powered. Every vehicle that's not doing heavy lifting that transports people and staff around the Port should be electric and, heck, maybe they could use some of their land to setup some solar farms. How about green roofs on all industrial buildings in the area?

So many things could be done by everyone in local industry that would not only make our environment healthier but make them leaders in the world.

by Erik on 12/30/2007 @ 8:55pm
The Port (and others) should look toward alternative sources of juice for all their hauling equipment and allowing docked ships to plug in rather than sit a churn diesel to stay powered.

Yep. You nailed it. The ships are still not being plugged in a much as they could be and spew out diesel pollution over Tacoma.

by AP on 12/30/2007 @ 10:14pm
Diesel sucks. It should be more expensive than gasoline like it was a year ago.

by Tara on 12/31/2007 @ 2:26pm
"We are all one Tacoma."

The Port of Tacoma agrees wholeheartedly. That's why our Environmental Programs Director offered the following testimony at the Department of Ecology's hearing on the boundary designation:

"While we consider our contribution to be insignificant during periods of wintertime exceedences, we are a part of the community, we contribute particulate matter to the atmosphere, and we intend to continue working with our neighbors to safeguard air quality and bring the region back into attainment.

We have focused on diesel particulate matter in our emission reduction efforts in order to safeguard the health of those who spend their careers working in the Tideflats. We’ve made great strides through our own efforts and those of our customers and tenants:
* We use low-sulfur fuels in all of our terminal equipment and in many ships at berth.
* We are creating newer, cleaner, more efficient fleets of equipment and are considering emerging opportunities for zero-emission, electric equipment.
* Central to our planning is the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, developed with the Port of Seattle, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and with direct involvement from state and regional air authorities. This strategy is designed to allow the Ports to grow as planned while achieving significant emission reductions.

Through our efforts to reduce diesel particulates, we are doing our part and more to reduce overall emissions. We intend to remain a leader in reducing emissions through innovative approaches that satisfy the needs of our business and the health of the region."

by Erik on 12/31/2007 @ 4:30pm
The Port of Tacoma agrees wholeheartedly. That's why our Environmental Programs Director offered the following testimony at the Department of Ecology's hearing on the boundary designation:

Thanks Tara for weighing in on the issue.

The city of Tacoma and the state EPA is aware of the many steps the Port of Tacoma is taking to reduce pollutants. Each one no doubt makes a difference.

However, in the end, the Port and the city are going to be judged by the overall pollutants in the air and whether the air in Tacoma meetings the health standards in the State and Federal clean air legislation.

Had the city and the Port reduced their pollutants earlier, neither entity would be in the position of violating the EPA's pollution standard.

I think what is also concerning is any effort to remove the Port from state's proposed monitoring area.

Here's the issue the Port may want to consider: what changes would need to be made for the Port to be able to comply with the state Clean Air Act?

by Tara on 1/2/2008 @ 11:15am
What most people don't realize, Erik, is that without winter wood smoke, Tacoma's average daily concentrations are well below the new legal threshold and almost always within the “green” or “healthy” zone for most of the year.

Port of Tacoma officials puposely chose NOT to debate the boundary designation so we could keep the focus on the true, science-based causes of our air pollution.

Port-related sources contribute 2 percent of Tacoma's annual air pollution. (It's even less during wintertime peaks.) We'll continue to work with shippers to reduce those amounts, but we want to focus public money and attention where it can do the most good -- on the other 98 percent.

It's a notoriously difficult and unpopular issue, but if we eliminate wintertime wood smoke peaks, our region will have some of the best urban air quality in the nation.