Air pollutant levels online

scotto

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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator

Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 5, 2009)
One of Hamilton's key pollution fighters says immediate access to air quality measurements gives "a whole lot more power to the community," especially people in neighbourhoods most heavily affected by industrial emissions.

Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton, welcomes public Internet access to Hamilton Air Monitoring Network (HAMN) data previously available only to its 23 member industries and the Ministry of the Environment.

"Real-time data, to me that's amazing," she said.

"Contrast that with the (ministry's) Air Quality Index and its shortcomings. It doesn't work the same way to provide information to people in those vulnerable parts of the city."

She told of a Beach Strip resident who reported an awful odour one night last week, went to the new website, www.hamnair.ca, and found the level of sulphur dioxide was high.

"It's a helpful way to match what she experienced with the data, and lets her ask what caused it and what can be done about it."

HAMN worked with the ministry and the stakeholder group Clean Air Hamilton to tailor the website for public use, adding descriptions of pollutants, explanations of how they're measured and an interactive map allowing users to click on monitoring sites and see instant readings of wind direction, wind speed and the levels of substances such as nitrogen oxides, total reduced sulphur and fine particulates.

Brian McCarry, chair of Clean Air Hamilton, said the HAMN locations were chosen to meet ministry requirements for monitoring heavy industry, so they're limited to the east Hamilton industrial area, but he hopes more companies will join and pay for new stations to expand coverage.

HAMN administrator Neil Buonocore says the industry group spends about $500,000 a year to operate the network of instruments, many originally installed by the ministry. They pay Rotek Environmental of Hamilton to maintain the system.

He and McCarry say it provides not only current readings and 24-hour trends, but daily, weekly and monthly data for a list of pollutants.

"You can go in and do whatever you want," said McCarry. "It's totally cool, and I'm chuffed at being at the centre of the storm."

emcguinness@thespec.com

905-526-4650
 

Sharla1

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Oct 15, 2009
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#2
Dofasco boss disputes gov't coke emissions data

December 16, 2009
Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator
Controversy is raging over Environment Ministry data showing the emission rate for cancer-causing benzene from ArcelorMittal Dofasco's Hamilton coke ovens twice as high as the worst U.S. coke producer in 2007.

The same data show Dofasco emitting benzene next year at a rate still 50 per cent higher per tonne of coke than the U.S. plant two years ago.

Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton, calls the revelations startling and worrisome, but Dofasco says the ministry is wrong, insisting its emission rate is not double the ArcelorMittal plant in Ohio cited by the ministry as the worst of 20 looked at in the U.S.

Andrew Sloan, Dofasco's general manager of public affairs, said late today: "We can say with some certainty that we are not two times as high. Bottom line, there is no basis for confidence in the ministry's graph."

He also said benzene emissions last year were 40 per cent less than in 2007 and will be reduced further under the company's $16-million Blue Skies Air Quality Action Plan announced in September.

However, Lukasik said: "The company is always talking about how much it has done to reduce benzene. Cripes, if it's that bad now, what have we been exposed to over the years?"

See full story in tomorrow's Hamilton Spectator.

emcguinness@thespec.com
905-526-4650
 
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