What exactly does Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District do?

We do know this … it’s a group of a few highly-paid secretaries who take notes about complaints of air pollution concerns, then do “investigations” which typically provide little to no resolution to complaints.

“With a staff of more than 70, APCD employs air quality and environmental professionals, engineers, inspectors, and technicians who operate and maintain air quality monitoring equipment. In addition, the agency is supported by in-house computer services, communications, legal services, records management, accounting and administrative staff.”

Seventy people to do exactly what?

They seem to have the records management down to the point they keep track of repeated complaints fairly well, but could use some help on the operating of monitoring equipment.

Usually, the only contact residents have with the APCD is when they call the complaint line: 574-6000. But the APCD is good at administrating that complaint line.

Receiving, recording, and responding to complaints, they have that down. Actually doing anything about polluters, not so much.

Councilwoman Mary Woolridge held a June 18, 2012 town hall meeting at the C.E. Kirby center on Algonquin Pkwy. Woolridge wanted to allow residents to pose their questions to the APCD regarding the ongoing air pollution complaints in the West End of Louisville.

The answers to many of the residents’ questions were unclear. Resolutions were inconclusive.

Residents came with pollution complaints and questions relating to, but not limited to, Brown-Forman’s mold emissions, Rubbertown’s toxic gas and particulate emissions and sewer off-gas concentrations.

Residents asked about the high levels of toxic gases vented into the atmosphere with permission of the city, albeit unregulated and unmeasured.

The APCD isn’t really measuring these emissions.

Brian Deis (center, in plaid shirt) and the “man in the tie” at the Mary Woolridge meeting.

Shouldn’t the APCD be measuring pollution emissions?

At Woolridge’s meeting, the “man in a tie,” pictured at right, relieved the original speaker of responsibility of answering awkward questions about why monitoring wasn’t occurring. He said in fewer words, “I don’t have the equipment to test for the amounts of emissions at any particular point in time.”

Residents were told notifications of air pollution, at any given time come, from the polluters themselves, or when citizen complaints are verified by the fire department.

Hmmm.

Smoke from the New Albany recycling fire blanketed downtown.

Since that fairly eye-opening meeting, we have had fires that were started while one person manned a recycling facility. Millions of gallons of water were sprayed onto the flames while millions of tons of dioxins were emitted into the surrounding communities.

But the air is clean now, they say.

Metro Louisville seems more concerned with allowing polluters to pollute more, only with “controls” on their emissions.

There was a big to-do last week when the APCD announced they were receiving $1.6 million in federal funds to help retrofit diesel engines with pollution controls.

The grant money will only go toward city equipment. The trucks and equipment that contractors use throughout our highways, and city roads, will continue to pollute unegulated.

Not to mention park at 13th and Main streets at what seems to be a campground for beatnik semi-tractor-trailer drivers so they can run their engines while parked on this lot. Idle away boys!

This led me to dig deeper. I contacted the EPA about that lacking equipment to track.

The EPA referred me to Jennifer Miller, the Environmental Technologist with the Technical Service Branch of Ambient Air Network of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection in Frankfort.

Miller now is researching how one can go about acquiring this lacking emissions monitoring equipment for APCD.

There is some equipment in place. (I found four APCD detectors in the West End.)

I find it hard to imagine these monitors NEVER send up red flags.

Hopefully, resolutions to these problems will soon come about so our officials can carry out their duties. The Fourth of July holiday is past. Everyone’s back to work in Frankfort … hopefully, that call comes in soon.

Last Thursday, the APCD newsroom issued three press releases. Two announced public input periods for permit proposals from Artisan Industrial Metals and American Synthetic Rubber Company.

The third release was an Air Quality Alert: “The Air Quality Index (AQI) is expected to be in the Unhealthy range.”

About Brian Deis: Brian Deis is an Environmental Geography student at the University of Louisville, and proponent of healthy urban communities.