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POLA pledges to restore air pollution monitoring
In a stunning reversal, Port of Los Angeles staff has pledged to restore air pollution monitoring at all four stations, and to seek board approval to buy all new equipment — a dramatic turnaround from the cost-cutting mindset that led to the unannounced shutdown of the SourceDominated Air Pollution Monitoring Site on Pier 300 in May.
“We’re going to buy all new equipment for all four stations,” POLA’s director of environmental management, Chris Cannon, said on a Sept. 2 conference call.
“Sounds great!” said Andrea Hricko, USC professor emerita of public health, who first brought the shutdown to public attention.
Just two days earlier, Hricko and a dozen other signatories representing community and environmental justice organizations had sent Cannon a letter sharply objecting to his most recent testimony to POLA’s board, when he told them that his division was reviewing “whether we really need to spend the money to operate all these stations – and if they are all necessary scientifically.”
In the call, in contrast, there was nothing but talk about investing in new equipment, with higher maintenance and replacement standards to ensure against degraded performance and reliability in the future.
In a followup letter the next day, Hricko and USC professor Ed Avol expressed appreciation for the change in direction. “We appreciate your commitment to ensure that all four stations will continue to operate into the future,” they wrote. “This will provide objective data to document air quality in the San Pedro Bay and allow community, port, and policy makers to observe local and longer-term trends in air quality at the nation’s busiest port.”
The letter also raised several issues to ensure they were not forgotten. These included:
1) Maintenance: “There should be appropriate maintenance procedures in place to assure credible instrumentation performance, protect capital investment, and provide a high level of quality performance for each station in the network, regardless of location.”
2) Continuity: “We urge the port to keep the San Pedro and Wilmington stations fully operational during this transitional phase to new instrumentation.”
3) New instruments to measure black carbon: “We are encouraged to hear that you are deploying a new aethalometer to monitor ambient carbon. We urge you deploy a new aethalometer as soon as possible to the Terminal Island monitoring station and begin collecting timely data.”
4) Continuity: “Continuous operation of the monitoring instrumentation provides documentation of trends in air quality. Units should NOT be turned off in anticipation of construction or other local activities. This defeats the purpose of providing the monitoring capability in the first place.”
No date has yet been given for board action to approve new spending.