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For Release: Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DEC Announces Air Screening Plan for Albany's South End Neighborhoods

Plan Developed at Request of Local Communities

Sampling Will Evaluate Volatile Organic Compounds in Communities Near Port of Albany Facilities

In response to a community request for additional air quality testing in Albany's South End neighborhoods, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will implement an air sampling plan to screen for specific pollutants in the community, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. DEC presented the plan and received public input at a community meeting at the Ezra Prentice Homes in Albany Tuesday evening.

This initial screening will determine a baseline of current air quality conditions and will help to determine if further sampling or enhanced inspections of Port of Albany facilities are necessary.

"DEC's priority is to protect the health and public safety of residents and communities," Commissioner Martens said. "We have worked closely with local leaders and representatives to address their concerns about the impact of crude operations. This air sampling is another tool that will provide valuable information about air quality in neighborhoods adjacent to Port of Albany operations."

DEC has worked closely with community leaders and residents who have expressed concerns about potential impacts related to crude oil transport and facilities in the area. DEC has met with community leaders several times as it developed the air screening plan. Global Companies, LLC has submitted an application to DEC to modify the company's Title V Air Permit to heat crude oil and petroleum products at its Port of Albany facilities, adjacent to the South End neighborhoods.

Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin said, "Setting up air- monitoring sites in the South End will have a positive effect on the perception that residents have about the level at which their concerns are being addressed. We cannot continue to say that the air quality will not be affected by new processes if we don't have a starting point. I am especially encouraged that residents will be directly involved in collecting samples."

The air screening plan (PDF, 1.7 MB) will use sampling equipment to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs are constituents of crude oil, as well as other sources which are present in the area.

The air screen samplers to be used in the South End are the same sampling canisters used in DEC's statewide air toxics monitoring network. The samplers will be located at three fixed, residential locations in the Albany South End neighborhood and will be collected once a week during the month of May. The community will employ a fourth sampler to use at its discretion each week in May.

Separate from this community air screening, DEC also will sample formaldehyde at the existing Green Street monitor location from May through August. The samples will be collected over a 24-hour period every sixth day, which is the schedule used by the Statewide Air Toxics program. In addition, DEC will purchase portable equipment necessary to measure ambient levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). If there are any plans for significant changes in the origin of the crude oil being transported through the area, DEC will survey H2S concentrations in neighborhoods around the Port of Albany before and after the changes occur.

In addition to the VOC sampling, particulate matter (PM 2.5) is monitored by DEC at the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) building on Ferry and Green Streets. Data from that monitor, as well as data from the other monitors in the Capital Region, show the entire area meets the ambient air quality standards as set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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