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Three KC – area organizations attend EPA Community Air Monitoring Training

Leticia DeCaigny and I just returned from an excellent EPA workshop.  I was representing the Diesel Health Project (DHP) and Leticia represented both DHP and the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee.

We were pleasantly surprised to meet another Kansas City, Kansas community organizer, the very dynamic Rachel Jefferson, with the Historic Northeast Midtown Association.

 

For more photos and details on the training class, please visit EPA Community Air Monitoring Training: A Glimpse into EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox

 

 

 

Kansas City Star calls for BNSF and EPA to act on citizen report of diesel exhaust air pollution from the Argentine Rail Yard

The Diesel Health Project and their community partners, the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Kansas Sierra Club, set out to monitor diesel exhaust pollution emitted by the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard.

Our objective was to determine if the pollution is a health risk to BNSF workers and the community, and if so, to inform the EPA, BNSF, and the public, and ask BNSF to resolve the problem.

We have achieved that objective.

We found diesel exhaust air pollution levels high enough that our consultant scientist Mark Chernaik, Ph.D. told us it could send people to the hospital, and result in increased mortality (death) for some.

EPA Region 7 was very helpful, and is reviewing our report.

We met with representatives of the BNSF Railroad, and requested the following of them:

Requests to the BNSF by the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee

The Good Neighbor Committee has studied and discussed the risks of diesel carbon emissions from the BNSF Rail Yards to the Argentine Community. We will present a report with the results of our tests to the community at Argentine Community Center and invite BNSF representatives to attend.

We acknowledge and will mention that the shutting down of the intermodal facility in Argentine yards and its move to Gardner has improved the air quality in some areas near the rail yard and that the overhaul of three switch engines, retrofitting them to Tier 2 emissions level, is a step in the right direction.

We hope we can announce that BNSF takes our concerns very seriously and acknowledges that diesel exhaust  emissions from diesel engines present risks to the residents in areas surrounding the rail yard. We would like to be able to tell the community that BNSF has agreed to take the following actions we have requested:

  1. To enclose in a building the area where locomotives being overhauled at the maintenance facility are tested and to place air handlers and scrubbers on the roof of that building to treat the exhaust thus limiting contamination of the air both to employees and the neighborhood.
  2. To develop a plan to move toward zero emissions beyond their fenceline as soon as possible, and to have no locomotives with greater than Tier 3 emissions within three years. To achieve this BNSF will need to put in place an accelerated schedule of upgrades and retrofitting of switch engines. (We assume BNSF is using low sulfur fuel that will allow the upgrade.)
  3. To install a real-time fence-line monitoring system to check black carbon, elemental carbon or other diesel markers.
  4. To keep the Good Neighbor Committee informed on a regular basis of progress in lowering diesel particle emissions.

We met with the community last week to share our findings and recommendations, and invited BNSF to attend and respond.  BNSF did not attend, but meeting attendees responded with interest.

The community meeting was attended by members of the press, who interviewed many participants. We were grateful to receive extensive news coverage by three of the most followed news organizations in the city – the Kansas City Star, KCTV 5 News, and KMBC Channel 41.

The Kansas City Star article was wonderful – an extensive front page (above the fold) story by Pulitzer-prize nominated medical reporter, Alan Bavley.

Yesterday, we were joined in our request by the Kansas City Star, which published a strong editorial – Rail yard pollution in Kansas City, Kan., requires a closer look by the EPA and BNSF

Among the Kansas City Star’s conclusions:

(this is)…a situation that deserves detailed investigation by local air quality officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. They have the expertise needed to better determine whether the emissions are harmful to humans and, if so, what should be done to curtail them.

Eventually, the EPA, BNSF and concerned residents should be able to reasonably determine whether a plan should be developed to further curtail diesel emissions at the rail yard.

Our next steps?  We are awaiting a response to our requests from the BNSF Railroad, and  hope that the company will decide to be a good neighbor and stop emitting diesel exhaust into the neighborhood.

In the interim, we will educate the community and BNSF workers on the health risks of diesel exhaust, and share information on how they can lessen their exposure to this dangerous air pollution.

For more information, check out the Kansas City Star’s editorial,:

Rail yard pollution in Kansas City, Kan., requires a closer look by the EPA and BNSF

or the other resources below:

Our report –> Argentine/Turner Diesel Exhaust Air Pollution Monitoring Final Report

Residents worry that Kansas City, Kan., rail yard threatens their health, by Alan Bavley, Kansas City Star (front page)

Emissions from KC rail yard affecting neighborhood health, KCTV5

KCK Group: Train yard emitting high levels of toxins, KSHB Channel 41

 

Kansas City Star – Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee asks BNSF to clean up its act

Source: Kansas City Star

The Diesel Health Project and the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee are fortunate there are such smart and hard working news media folks in Kansas City!

As we reported a few days ago in KANSAS CITY, KANSAS COMMUNITY GROUP REQUESTS THAT BNSF REDUCE EMISSIONS OF DANGEROUS DIESEL EXHAUST AIR POLLUTION INTO THEIR NEIGHBORHOODSKCTV5 gave us amazing coverage on extremely short notice.  We were very impressed by what reporter Erika Tallan and her team can do in a few hours.  Click to view her video –

Emissions from KC rail yard affecting neighborhood health

Today, one of the best medical reporters in the U.S., Alan Bavley of the Kansas City Star, wrote an outstanding front page news story on our monitoring and requests of BNSF to clean up their pollution.  If you’d like to learn more about our work, please check out:

Residents worry that Kansas City, Kan., rail yard threatens their health

Kansas City, Kansas Community Group Requests that BNSF Reduce Emissions of Dangerous Diesel Exhaust Air Pollution into their Neighborhoods

The Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee had a great community meeting last night.

More than 30 people attended, including committee members, other Argentine residents,  and representatives of Global Community Monitor, the Kansas Sierra Club, Diesel Health Project, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The BNSF Railway did not send representatives.

The CBS affiliate TV Station KCTV5 was there, and showed this news report on the evening news.  The Kansas City Star sent a reporter and photographers, but has not yet run a story.

Leticia DeCaigny opened the meeting by providing background on how the project began and was conducted.

Her husband Ryan DeCaigny  discussed the health risks of diesel exhaust,  and the results of their monitoring, which showed that community members are subjected to dangerous levels of diesel exhaust from the Argentine Rail Yard Locomotive Maintenance Facility.

Judy Ancel presented the requests the Good Neighbor Committee made earlier this month to the BNSF Railway, and told them that BNSF had not yet responded.  The requests were:

  1. To enclose in a building the area where locomotives being overhauled at the maintenance facility are tested and to place air handlers and scrubbers on the roof of that building to treat the exhaust thus limiting contamination of the air both to employees and the neighborhood.
  2. To develop a plan to move toward zero emissions beyond their fenceline as soon as possible, and to have no locomotives with greater than Tier 3 emissions within three years. To achieve this BNSF will need to put in place an accelerated schedule of upgrades and retrofitting of switch engines. (We assume BNSF is using low sulfur fuel that will allow the upgrade.)
  3. To install a real-time fence-line monitoring system to check black carbon, elemental carbon or other diesel markers.
  4. To keep the Good Neighbor Committee informed on a regular basis of progress in lowering diesel particle emissions.

There were many good comments and discussions,  One of the most important points was made by Richard Mabion who emphasized that the Good Neighbor Committee is not opposed to the rail yard – they are opposed to the rail yard polluting the air they breathe and endangering their health.

Richard described solutions to these problems that BNSF has implemented and proposed at other rail yards; and said that he wants them to use the cleanest possible technologies in Argentine too.

The Good Neighbor Committee had a sign up sheet and several people joined.

At the end of the meeting, the committee distributed copies of the report produced for the group by the Global Community Monitor.  It can be viewed on-line and downloaded here.

 

Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee to release diesel air pollution monitoring results on Wednesday, June 24 at 6 pm

From Leticia DeCaigny and the Good Neighbor Committee:

We share our community with the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, where locomotives burn substantial amounts of diesel fuel, day and night.

Come to a community meeting to hear the results of a study done by citizen scientists with the help of experts on the extent of diesel exhaust contamination in our air.

Diesel Emissions have serious health effects.

When: Wednesday, June 24 at 6 pm

Where: South Branch Library, 3104 Strong Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas

For more information, mail Leticia DeCaigny at Letyg299@gmail.com

 

 

 

Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Diesel Health Project at the Argentine Community Center

KCK has very active and effective neighborhood groups, and several of them invited Leticia DeCaigny, leader of the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Diesel Health Project community organizer, and “Green Czar” and Diesel Health Project co-founder Richard Mabion to tell them about our community monitoring project.

We met last night (Tuesday, June 17),  and had a great time.  Leticia and Richard made a very informative presentation on diesel pollution air monitoring in the neighborhoods bordering the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, and Diesel Health Project volunteers videotaped the event and interviewed community members.

A week from today, on Wednesday June 24, the Good Neighbor Committee, Diesel Health Project and Global Community Monitor will hold a public meeting at the same location to release the final report on our monitoring and what we discovered.  

Stay tuned for more information!

EPA Region 7 EJ meeting – at the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center

EPA Region 7 held an excellent EJ meeting last Thursday, at the beautiful Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center.

We reviewed and commented on the EJ 2020 Action Agenda, got a great demo of the EJSCREEN Environmental Justice Screening Tool, and much more.

My comment to EPA on the EJ2020 Action Plan?

Please explicitly identify goods movement (aka freight transportation) environmental health in overburdened neighborhoods as a priority.

Thanks to Charles Lee, Altheà Moses, Margaret May, Karim Dawani, Brendan Corazzin,  Elizabeth Kramer, and the rest of the folks who made the event happen!

And thank you to the Diesel Health Project folks who came!

To see photos from the meeting, just click below!

Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Diesel Health Project Participate in the KCK All Things Air Community Fair

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Three Diesel Health Project members, Leticia DeCaigny, Luis Aparicio, and I participated in yesterday’s All Things Air Community Fair at the Argentine Public Library.

Leticia also represented the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee, the group that is monitoring diesel exhaust pollution along and near the fenceline of the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, and demonstrated use of an air quality monitor provided by Global Community Monitor.

The event was sponsored by Environmental Protection Agency Region 7,  the EPA Office of Research and Development , and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The highlight of the event was the ribbon cutting of the innovative Village Green air monitoring bench.

The bench monitors fine particles and ozone, and the EPA is exploring options for monitoring diesel soot (black carbon) and ultrafine particles.

Source: EPA
Source: EPA

We handed out a GREAT selection of English and Spanish Diesel Exhaust Fact Sheets created by the amazing students of the University of Kansas Environmental Studies Program.  If you were not able to attend, please download any that you would like here.

Check out a few photos Luis and I took by visiting our photo gallery.

Diesel Health Project, Community and National Organizations work to make Argentine a healthier place

The Diesel Health Project has achieved its first objective – to monitor for dangerous levels of diesel exhaust pollution the BNSF rail yards in Kansas City, and Gardner/Edgerton,  Kansas, and to raise the alarm if we found any. Our role – canary in the coal mine!

Leticia DeCaigny  in Kansas City Star "Diesel fumes near KCK rail yard post health threat"
Leticia DeCaigny  in Kansas City Star Diesel fumes near KCK rail yard post health threat..

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