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Comments sought on updated clean air maintenance plan for Kent
For the Reporter
Kent and parts of Seattle and Tacoma, formerly listed as air-quality problem areas, would continue to meet a clean-air standard for airborne particles at least through 2020, under a proposed plan drawn by state and local agencies.
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on the proposal, called a maintenance plan. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and Ecology worked together to draft the plan. Ecology will submit it for review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) later this year.
From 1987 until the mid-1990s, EPA had listed Kent, Seattle's Duwamish Valley and the Tacoma Tideflats as "non-attainment" areas for an air pollutant called PM-10 – airborne particles less than 10 microns in diameter. There are 1,000 microns in a millimeter.
All three areas have met state and federal PM-10 standards for more than 20 years.
EPA reclassified the three areas as maintenance areas, based on Ecology applications that documented efforts to improve air quality and plans to maintain it. Federal rules require two updates of maintenance area air-quality plans. Ecology submitted the first maintenance plan in 1997. The currently proposed update is the second and final plan required.
The Tacoma Tideflats PM-10 maintenance area is located within the Tacoma-Pierce County PM-2.5 non-attainment area, established by EPA in 2009 for airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. The non-attainment area includes Tacoma's industrial district and several nearby residential neighborhoods. Wood smoke from home heating contributes most to the non-attainment area's PM-2.5 pollution.
The tiny particles can cause lung damage. They pose a risk especially to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic heart and lung illnesses.
Ecology seeks public comment on the proposed plan through Nov. 4, 2013. Comments may be sent to:
• Email: AQComments@ecy.wa.gov
• Letters: Department of Ecology; PO Box 47600; Olympia, WA 98504-7600; ATTN: Laurie Hulse-Moyer
• Ecology also will conduct a public hearing on the proposed plan at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Kent Commons, Mill Creek Room, at 525 Fourth Ave. N., Kent.
The proposed plan is available at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/sips/plans/maintenancesip.htm.
For the Seattle and Tacoma maintenance areas, PM-10 emission reductions have come primarily from industrial facilities. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma also reduced emissions from their diesel equipment through a number of voluntary programs. In the Kent area, reductions in winter wood smoke led to lower PM-10 levels.
The updated plan lists control strategies that help the area continue to meet the standard, such as industrial emissions controls, dust controls, cleaner wood stoves, and wood smoke burn bans when needed in winter. Other emission reductions that have contributed to cleaner air include Ecology's motor vehicle Emission Check program and federal standards for lower sulfur in diesel fuel, and tighter standards for new diesel vehicles.