Monday May 24, 2004
Mayor Jerry Abramson’s proposed budget will include $700,000 to fund intensive air monitoring and the staff necessary to execute a plan to lower air toxics emissions in Louisville.
The air toxics reduction program will include additional air monitors to gather data and environmental engineers and other staff to help industry and businesses make changes in their processes that will significantly reduce the amount of cancer-causing chemicals they emit into the air.
The program will be funded by a combination of a federal grant, permit fees on companies that pollute the air and surplus funds from the defunct Vehicle Emissions Testing (VET) program.
“Our air quality has improved in recent years, but we continue to have significant challenges that left unaddressed can threaten the health of our citizens and the economic health of our community,” Abramson said.
The Air Pollution Control District is developing an air toxics reduction plan, which will be finalized this summer. The program will target 18 cancer-causing chemicals identified in a 2001 study by the West Jefferson County Community Task Force and set new emissions standards. The chemicals include butadiene, chloroprene, acrylonitrile and benzene.
Williams said the air toxics reduction program, which will be phased in over several years, focuses on three areas:
Helping existing companies change processes over time to reduce toxic emissions Working with expanding companies to make sure emission levels don’t increase
Ensuring new companies locating in the area comply with lower emissions levels
Louisville Metro Government recently received a grant from the federal EPA to spend up to $267,000, which is part of the program budget, for intensive air monitoring near Rubbertown.
APCD Director Art Williams said the federal funding will purchase three to five mobile air monitors initially will be placed outside along the fence-line outside the American Synthetic Rubber. The monitors will then be used at other locations throughout the community to gather data on emissions.
Abramson is proposing $174,000 in surplus VET funds to help fund five new staff members and expert analysis. The employees will help conduct air monitoring and work with area industry and businesses to help meet the new standards set forth in a community air toxics plan.
In addition, Williams said the Air Pollution Control District Board will be asked to raise permit fees for businesses that emit toxic chemicals to help pay for the air toxics reduction program. The fees are expected to generate $261,000 in the coming year from more than 800 businesses in the community.
Fees would increase about $100 a year for small businesses up to $4,000 to $5,000 a year for the largest industries in the community.
“We all have a role to play in improving our community’s air quality – from individuals to businesses and industry,” Williams said. “The air toxics reduction plan will give businesses an appropriate time to make the changes necessary to help improve our air quality.”
Abramson and Williams said the air toxics reduction program will represent another step forward in the progress the community is making to improve its air quality. Following meetings with Mayor Abramson and the APCD board over the last year, American Synthetic, which is the largest emitter of butadiene in the community, recently agreed to make changes at its facility that cut its emissions by more than half.
Three other Rubbertown companies – Rohm and Haas, Zeon Chemicals and DuPont Dow Elastomers – also have agreed to make changes that will lower emissions.