|Poster boards of facility risk assessment were displayed for public to read.|
(Photo by Anabell Romero)
Air pollution agency South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) hosted a public meeting Thursday night along with Phillips 66 refinery to inform residents of a state air pollution regulation law that was violated by the Wilmington refinery.
The meeting room at Banning’s Landing was filled with community residents, environmentalist, AQMD officials and refinery workers.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide details on the possible health risk, which state law known as Assembly Bill 2588 (AB2588), requires that facilities notify nearby residents of potential effects caused by toxic air pollutants released in the air. The goal of the toxic hot spot law is to collect facility’s emissions data, identify localized impacts to determine health risks and to inform the public of such findings.
Based on the facility’s emissions and calculated risk, people living in the area would have their chances of getting cancer increased by a maximum of 23.2 chances in a million. People who work in the area of impact would have their chances of getting cancer increased by a maximum of 6.6 chances in a million over a 46-year lifetime, according to the summary health risk noted on the public notice.
The AB2588 law demands that notification to the public is made when facilities that emit air pollution cause a cancer risk or other health threats above certain levels, which Phillips 66 exceeded. In this case refinery officials said they mailed out two notices in English and Spanish informing residents of the public meeting.
“This is taken extremely seriously,” said refinery manager Chris Chandler. “We work very hard to get zero penalties.”
|This is a facility risk map determining what parts of the neighborhood are|
mostly impacted by air pollutants released by Phillips 66.
Both AQMD and refinery officials gave a presentation on a risk assessment explaining the dangers of being exposed to emissions such as higher cancer risk, which they presented being a result of these three main compounds; diesel particulate, 1,3-butadiene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Environmental activist expressed discontent with the assessment and demanded that a better evaluation be made to determine how many cases of cancer and other related illnesses already exist amongst Wilmington and nearby neighborhoods.
“We the public had to get assemblyman and other senators to vote and approve AB2588, every refinery was against 2588, not one supported it when it went before assembly committees,” said long-time environmental activist, Jesse Marquez.
Despite public comments scheduled to the end of the meeting, many concerned residents could not help but interrupt the presenter to ask pressing questions of their findings.
“I think it’s up to us, the community, to make sure that there is a fair study and that there is no bias,” said 39-year-old Wilmington resident Arturo Gonzalez. “I think their needs to be a neutral party.”
A map was shown to illustrate the homes mostly impacted by the refinery, which includes a large part of Wilmington.
Refinery officials also took the time to briefly comment on the September 15 incident where black smoke hovered above local neighborhoods as a result of burn-off caused by a power outage, which required the refinery to shut down for a few hours.
Until this day many residents remain unclear of the incident and are oblivious on whether it had any direct health impacts on the community.
Although attendees were appreciative of officials hosting the public meeting many residents continue to be concerned of how properly the refineries are being ran and whether AQMD is doing enough to ensure that not only Phillips 66 is being monitored but also other industry in Wilmington.
Resident Angela Ingalls shared her thoughts on the meeting, watch here: