Posts tagged air

Cedar Rapids school not on EPA’s list for outdoor air pollution monitoring

   Johnson Elementary in Cedar Rapids was not included in a list the Environmental Protection Agency released today of schools that will be monitored for outdoor air pollution.

   The EPA, state and local agencies will work together to monitor air toxics around 62 schools in 22 states that are located near large industrial facilities or in urban areas. EPA identified the schools based on information – from a newspaper analysis – that raised questions about air quality.

   Roland-Story High School in Story City, north of Ames, was the only Iowa school included on the EPA monitoring list.

   Johnson Elementary ranked among schools nationwide with the worst outdoor air quality, according to a report in December by USA Today.

   Linn County Public Health officials disputed the report, and held a meeting in February at Johnson Elementary, 355 18th St. SE.

    Jim Hodina, supervisor of the air quality division at Linn County Public Health, discussed air quality issues with about 15 parents at the school.

 The USA Today report said the main chemical of concern was manganese, emitted from Cedarapids Inc. 909 17th St. NE.  The model used by USA Today suggested all of the manganese generated at the plant was released into the air.  Cedarapids Inc. generates dust in its plant from cutting metal, Hodina said, but not all of the dust leaves the building.

    For more information about Linn County Public Health’s response to the air quality report, go to: http://www.linncleanair.org

    Here is the EPA press release:

 (Washington, D.C. – March 31, 2009) In an unprecedented effort to help protect children from toxic air pollution around schools, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced a list of schools that will undergo outdoor air monitoring.

“As a mother, I understand that concerned parents deserve this information as quickly as we can gather and analyze it,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA, state, and local officials are mobilizing to determine where elevated levels of toxics pose a threat, so that we can take swift action to protect our children at their schools.”

EPA, state and local agencies will work together to monitor air toxics around 62 schools in 22 states that are located near large industrial facilities or in urban areas. EPA identified these schools for monitoring based on information that raised questions about air quality. That information included the best data available to EPA scientists about air pollution in the vicinity of schools, results of a computer modeling analysis, results from a recent newspaper analysis, and information from state and local air agencies.

Depending on the availability of staff and equipment, monitoring at some schools on the list will begin almost immediately; other schools will begin monitoring over the next 60 to 90 days. State and local air agencies will install and operate the monitors, while EPA will purchase the monitors and pay for laboratory analysis.

State and local agencies will take periodic samples of the air around the schools for a 60-day period. EPA will analyze the results of the monitoring and share the information with the schools and the public. EPA will use the information gathered in this initiative to determine how best to move forward, which could require additional monitoring or enforcement action where appropriate.

EPA and states will work with school communities to ensure they understand the monitoring results. In addition to monitoring the outdoor air quality, EPA also will help interested schools improve the quality of their indoor air.

To learn more about this program and to view the list of schools that are part of the monitoring initiative: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair

 

 

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Going green – not just for St. Paddy’s Day anymore – and inside Clipper wind

   Going green used to be reserved for St. Patrick’s Day.

Not anymore.

   In the past few years, “green” has taken on a different meaning – a movement that embraces an environmentally friendly way of living. The Homegrown blog has always shared in that philosophy and now it’s expanding. Gardening will remain an integral part of the blog, but it will also include the “home” side of Homegrown, as well, with tips and ideas for maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle, both indoors and out.

 

   With the state’s Environmental Protection Commission in Cedar Rapids for a meeting and tour of Clipper Turbine Works,  I thought this would be a good time to launch the Homegrown eco-blog.

 

   The Environmental Protection Commission is a panel of nine Iowans who provide policy oversight for Iowa’s environmental protection efforts. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by a vote of the senate for  four-year terms. Air and water quality surrounding Iowa’s confined animal feeding operations, requirements regarding underground storage tanks and climate change are some of the issues the commission addresses. 

 Two local members are Marty Stimson, a top manager at Clipper Turbine Works in Cedar Rapids, and Shearon Elderkin of Cedar Rapids.

Shearon has served on the Friends of the Linn County Conservation Board, Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Cedar Rapids Garden Club, and the 1000 Friends of Iowa Board. She also has served on the Linn County Conservation Board and the Linn County Integrated Roadside Management Committee.

 

   On Monday, March 16, the commission toured Clipper Turbine Works’ plant at 4601 Bowling St. SW. I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside, but Marty let me take a shot of him outdoors, next to the 150-foot-long blade in front of the plant. The blades aren’t actually manufactured in Cedar Rapids. The Liberty turbines that are made here include the machine base, gearbox and huge hubs, which look like a deep-sea diving helmet out of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

 

   Commission member Suzanne Morrow of Storm Lake said the group takes tours a few times a year to get a better understanding of some of the issues they consider. Marty offered background on Clipper and led the commission members through the plant, along with visitors, two members of the Department of Natural Resources and Rich Leopold, director of the DNR.

 

   The plant itself is “recycled,” formerly serving as FMC Corp. and the former Goss plant. It has 330,000-square-feet for manufacturing and 30,000 for office space. Earlier this year, Clipper laid off about 80 employees, going from a workforce of 350 to 270 in Cedar Rapids. Marty said no orders had been cancelled, but some had been deferred until the economy recovers.  In fact, the plant has been increasing the number of turbines produced from eight in 2006, to 137 in 2007 to 300 last year. It will eventually reach a maximum productivity of 500 to 550 turbines produced per year, Marty predicted.

 

   Each 2.5-megawatt Liberty wind turbine costs about $3 million, or just over $3.5 million with installation. Iowa has risen to second in the nation in wind power, with 2,790 megawatts installed, surpassing California, which has 2,517 mw, in third. Texas is the leader in wind power.

   Every 1,000 megawatts provides enough electricity to power 300,000 homes and enough to offset 3.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

   One impediment in providing a steady supply is the nation’s power grid, but Rich Leopold sees hope in President Obama’s stimulus package, which is directing $50 to $60 million to Iowa for energy efficiency, with an additional amount attached to the development of a “smart grid” that can allow wind farms to connect into the grid, a need especially in rural areas.

 

 

Marty Stimson at Clipper Turbine Works

Marty Stimson at Clipper Turbine Works

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