Washington State Department of Ecology - April 22, 2013

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Thurston air quality plan available for public comment

OLYMPIA – A draft plan for keeping Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater air pollution in check through 2020 is available now for review and comment.

The public can review the draft revision to the Thurston County maintenance plan now through May 31, 2013. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) developed this plan to show how the area meets and will continue to meet a federal particle pollution standard.

The plan and related documents are available on Ecology’s website, and a physical copy can be reviewed at the Thurston Regional Library in downtown Olympia, 313 8th Avenue SE. 

Maintenance Area

At one time, Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater violated national air pollution standards for what is known as PM10, or particulate matter of 10 microns or smaller in size. The violation led to the designation of the three cities as a “nonattainment” area, requiring Ecology and ORCAA to step in and shape an initial plan to get the pollution under control.

Through measures that control PM10 - such as burn bans, outdoor burning restrictions and swapping out uncertified wood stoves - the “Thurston County Maintenance Area” has been meeting federal air quality standards since 1991. However, the federal Clean Air Act requires the state oversee long-term, consecutive maintenance plans for how the area will continue to meet the PM10 standard. This maintenance plan will be the final one required.

The plan does not add rules or change requirements for controlling PM10.  It will be sent to the federal government to be added to Washington’s comprehensive State Implementation Plan for maintaining air quality.

Particle pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for particle pollution because smaller particles such as soot, dust and unburned fuel can penetrate deeply into the lungs and cause health problems.

Those with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most vulnerable to the effects of particle pollution. However, even healthy people can experience temporary symptoms from increased levels of particle pollution.

Submitting public comment  

Ecology will accept comments on the Thurston County maintenance area plan through May 31, 2013, by email (AQComments@ecy.wa.gov) or regular mail: Laurie Hulse-Moyer, Washington Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

Ecology will review and consider all comments before submitting a plan to the EPA for approval. All comments will be summarized and published along with Ecology’s responses.

The public can ask Ecology to hold a hearing. That request must be received by Laurie Hulse-Moyer no later than May 22, 2013: laurie.hulse-moyer@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6783.

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Media Contact:

Kim Schmanke, 360-407-6034 (desk), kim.schmanke@ecy.wa.gov

More information:

Air quality maintenance plans (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/sips/plans/maintenancesip.htm)

Air Quality (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/airhome.html)

Ecology’s social mediaa (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)