Attached is a letter regarding Global Partners proposed heating facility and modification to its Title V Air Permit.
Published on 3/2/2014 written by Dominick Calsolaro
Attached is a letter regarding Global Partners proposed heating facility and modification to its Title V Air Permit. Please include this in the public record for this proposed project. Thank you.
35 Clare Avenue
Albany, New York 12202
March 2, 2014
Karen M. Gaidasz
1130 North Westcott Road
Schenectady, New York 12306
Re: Global Companies LLC – Albany Terminal, 50 Church Street – Port of Albany, Albany, New York 12202
Dear Ms. Gaidasz:
I attended the DEC’s February 12, 2014 public meeting at Giffen Elementary School. I spoke at the meeting and asked DEC to consider doing three things: 1) Rescind its Negative Declaration and declare a Positive Declaration for the proposed project. 2) Require Global to undertake all necessary actions related to an Environmental Justice community. 3) Put off any decision on the project until the federal government (U.S. Department of Transportation and The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) has issued updated regulations regarding the flammability of Bakken crude being transported by rail.
In this letter, my fourth one (Dec. 26, 2013; January 8, 2014; February 17, 2014) commenting on Global’s proposed heating facility and their request for a modification to their Title V Air Permit, I will concentrate on the absolute necessity for DEC to declare this project ‘as located in an Environmental Justice community’ and to rescind its Negative Declaration and issue a Positive Declaration.
Global’s Environmental Justice analysis for this project, as stated by Hershberg & Hershberg in a letter dated January 9, 2014 to Brad Glass, Senior Planner, City of Albany, stated, “…the project and Terminal operation was not likely to result in significant adverse environmental impacts, there would be no potential adverse impacts on the community from an Environmental Justice perspective.” The letter goes on to state that NYSDEC issued a Negative Declaration because DEC found that the “previous operations associated with crude, “will not have a significant impact on the environment””. The wording used by the DEC is almost word-for-word the language submitted by Global. It seems that DEC did not do its due diligence and make its own decision as to whether or not the Ezra Prentice community is an Environmental Justice community but relied on Global to make the determination for DEC.
The area in question, along the southern end of South Pearl Street, is an Environmental Justice community. It is a neighborhood of low-income, minority residents who are already living in an overburdened environmental area of Albany. To simply take Global’s word that their Title V Air Permit modification should not come under the auspices of the DEC’s Environmental Justice policy is a dereliction of duty by the DEC.
Global’s analysis regarding the Environmental Justice “look” is superficial, at least from my reading of the information I have at hand. Global did not consider, as best as I can tell, the affect air pollution has on a community of low socioeconomic status (SES) as compared to communities of moderate or high SES. And, this analysis MUST be undertaken if the true affects of increased air contaminants and noise are, according to Global, “not likely to result in a significant increase” of same. What does “significant increase” mean? And, is “significant increase” at all relevant based on a study done by Gray, Edwards, Schultz and Miranda on SES and air pollution in North Carolina.
The study, as reported in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health, entitled: "Assessing the impact of race, social factors and air pollution on birth outcomes: a population-based study" (Gary et al: Assessing the impact of race, social factors and air pollution on birth outcomes: a population-based study. Environmental Health 2014 13:4)
showed that air pollution exposure and socioeconomic status (SES) are indicators of health, especially in children. The authors studied five years of data for the entire state of North Carolina (NC). The report's conclusion states: “Our results show that despite NC’s consistent attainment of federal air quality standards, there is a stable and negative association between air pollution exposure and adverse birth outcomes…the more socially disadvantaged populations are at a greater risk…”.
Let me repeat the findings: “there is a stable and negative association between air pollution exposure and adverse birth outcomes…the more socially disadvantaged populations are at a greater risk …” . Did Global’s analysis consider that even a “not significant increase” in air pollution and noise pollution would have an adverse affect on a low SES community that is already dealing with numerous stressors? Did Global consider that those of low SES are more affected by environmental pollution than those living in higher SES communities? Did Global consider the findings of Gray et al that “Air pollution exposure contributed an additional harmful effect on pregnancy after controlling for race and individual and area-level SES.”? (p.6)
Furthermore, Global dismisses as ‘insignificant’ the increase in air pollution and noise pollution from the proposed heating facility on the residents of Ezra Prentice. In a letter from envirospec to the DEC dated September 6, 2013, responding to comments on a potential Environmental Justice area made by the DEC in a letter dated July 25, 2013, envirospec responds:
“The land surrounding the Terminal is predominantly industrial, transportation corridor and Interstate Highway. Interstate 787 is a major transportation route that is active 24 hours per day with heavy passenger, small truck and large tractor trailer vehicles. There is a constant flow of heavy traffic, including large diesel fuel powered trucks…The Interstate noise is constant. In addition to the industrial activity on the east side of the highway, there also exist a variety of commercial activity….the proposed project will not have any adverse environmental impacts. As a result, no further environmental justice analysis is required…”.
In other words, Global is saying: because the residents who live along I787, South Pearl Street (Route 32 which is the entrance to the Port of Albany for ‘large tractor trailer vehicles’), and adjacent to the rail yards are already stressed by those sources of air and noise pollution, what’s the problem with adding an additional air and noise pollution burden to this low income, mostly minority community in the South End of Albany. If Global’s words, and those of their consultants (constant traffic and noise, heavy truck traffic, other commercial and industrial activity, etc.), are not enough to determine that this is an Environmental Justice area, then, I guess, nothing will.
I found it incredulous that DEC accepted this response by Global Companies LLC, through its consultant envirospec, that the air and noise pollution caused by I787, Rt. 32, rail yards and train traffic, and the industrial activity that is adjacent to the Ezra Prentice housing complex and the surrounding neighborhood was not enough to declare the proposed project in need of following DEC’s Environmental Justice policy! Please explain your decision.
And, if envirospec’s own written conclusions are not enough to hang them, please refer to the following finding by Gray et al (op cit): “…proximity to major roadways has also been used as a metric for individual air pollution exposures due to the large contribution of traffic emissions to ambient air pollution.” The report cites the following references to support this finding: Miranda ML, Edwards SE, Chang HH, Auten RL: Proximity to roadways and pregnancy outcomes. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 2013, 23:32-38. Genereux M, Auger N, Goneau M, Daniel M: Neighborhood socioeconomic status, maternal education and adverse birth outcomes among mothers living near highways, J Epidermal Community Health 2008 62:695-700. Karr CJ, Rudra CB, Miller KA, Gould TR, Larson T, Sathyanarayana S, Koenig JQ: Infant exposure to fine particulate matter and traffic and risk of hospitalization for RSV bronchiolitis in a region with lower ambient air pollution. Environ Res 2009, 109:321-327. Hart JE, Laden F, Puett RC, Costenbader KH, Karlson EW: Exposure to traffic pollution and increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, Environ Health Persect 2009, 117:1065-1069.
The Gray et al report is a STRONG argument for the proposed Global heating facility to be investigated by DEC as an Environmental Justice community issue before any permits are granted. And, if that peer reviewed report is not enough, then Global’s and their consultants’ words should be more than enough. They admit that the low income, minority area in question is already under siege by air and noise pollution due to its proximity to an interstate highway and the truck route to the Port. Isn’t that the definition of an Environmental Justice community?!! What further evidence does the DEC need to rescind its Negative Declaration and issue a Positive Declaration and to further declare that Global MUST treat this area as an Environmental Justice community and follow DEC’s policy on Environmental Justice.
Thank you, again, for your time and consideration in this matter.