THE HUNTER REPORT

Loudon County Non-Attainment

EPA Fine Particulate, Clean Air Act

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Clean Filter & Dirty Filter.

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Black Smoke- Boiler uses King Coal.

Residents fed up with Pollution problem

Concerns about health related issues

By: Pat Hunter

Can you see the difference between white steam and black smoke and brownish grey emissions, soot or haze coming from industrial smokestacks?

Loudon County residents went before the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force to air their concerns about the pollution problem and health.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued two Notice of Violations to Kimberly Clarks in recent months. Tissue giant Kimberly Clark (KC) is located in the Sugarlimb Industrial Park nears homes, churches and schools.

Resident Shirley Harrison commented that the EPA considered the current enforcement action as "High Priority Violator." This means that the facility has been addressed with formal enforcement action but its violations have not been resolved.   

A third stack test is planned to see if Kimberly Clark will comply with permit limits. In 2005, TDEC cited Trigen for exceeding permit limits for particulates.

Trigen burns Kimberly Clarks sludge with wood to produce steam for the Kimberly Clark plant. 

The news article below appears in the Sunday-Monday (Nov. 1-2) Loudon County News Herald.

The dark grey matter has been described as incomplete combustion and residents near the Sugarlimb Industrial Park have voiced their concerns about this fine soot on outdoor furnishings and vehicles. People are also complaining that this fine dark grey soot is making its way indoors and settles everywhere. Many are concerned about the health effects of breathing these emissions.

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To file a complaint with TDEC Knoxville field office:

TDEC field office personnel will come to your residence or business and collect a sample of residue. Samples are then sent to a lab and tested free of charge.

Victor Malichis, Environmental Field Office Manager

Email address: Vick.Malichis@tn.gov

Phone number: 594-5514

Fax number: 594-6105

 

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EPA Health and Environment

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.

Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Small particles of concern include "inhalable coarse particles" (such as those found near roadways and dusty industries), which are larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter; and "fine particles" (such as those found in smoke and haze), which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect both public health and the public welfare (e.g. crops and vegetation). Particle pollution affects both.

Health Effects

Particle pollution - especially fine particles - contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing, for example;
  • decreased lung function;
  • aggravated asthma;
  • development of chronic bronchitis;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • nonfatal heart attacks; and
  • premature death in people with heart or lung disease.
People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution. For more information about asthma, visit www.epa.gov/asthma.

 

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Source: News-Herald
 

Air Quality report finalized by EPA, some citizens raise accuracy concerns

Published: 5:08 PM, 10/30/2009 Last updated: 5:10 PM, 10/30/2009

Author: Vicky Newman
 

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the Air Toxics Risk Assessment Report, reflecting findings from data collected at monitors at two locations in Loudon County over several years. Report findings were discussed Wednesday by the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force.

Mike Crosby, task force chairman, said the finalized report had not changed significantly from the preliminary report delivered in July. The report concluded that suspected carcinogens - actaldehyde, were not found in concentrations deemed to present an undue health risk. The scientists' main concern was an unexpectedly high level of acrolein, a substance known to cause respiratory distress.
 
While report conclusions were not all negative, new or particularly alarming, local citizens in attendance insisted air quality still is unacceptable. Several took to task industry representatives for failing to meet emission standards set by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Local activist Pat Hunter asked industry stack test results be added to the agenda for discussion. Several other community citizens were in attendance, asking questions and voicing concerns about the environment.

Citizen Sarah Simpson Bivens first broached the topic about stack tests results. Bivens asked the task force to investigate and attempt to obtain information to explain why hardwood trees are dying on a family farm property parcel.

"The young trees as well as old are dying off," she said. "I want to find out if it is related to air pollution. We are just across the river from the (Kimberly-Clark) plant."
 
Bivens said the United States Department of Agriculture had maintained a test plot on the farm property for several years, but had not disclosed any findings with the owners.
 
Hunter said she shared Bivens' concerns. "I look at the smoke stacks, and I see a different white plume, a different black smoke and a brown haze."

Betty McAllister, a Loudon resident, said, "I see what comes out of Staley (now Tate & Lyle), and you're telling  me there is nothing harmful out there?"
Jerry Schleuter, Tate & Lyle plant manager, said the acetaldehyde levels found in the air toxics report placed the substance in the yellow, or elevated level, but not in the red danger level. "It is not toxic, so the answer would be 'no.'"

Schleuter said Tate & Lyle is on shut-down through November except for a skeletal crew, for the plant to correct some problems. He also said the plant had received a Notice of Violation from TDEQ after reporting a 12-hour boiler fire problem that had occurred about a year ago.
"Basically, it was poor quality control," he said. "We did everything we could, other than shut down."
 
Over the last few months, Kimberly-Clark Corp. has failed two stack tests and received Notices of Violation from TDEC.

Bryan Crawford, the Kimberly-Clark task force representative, reported the plant is waiting for a third stack test. Internal tests, conducted by a third party for the plant indicated the problems had been resolved, he said.

Hunter said Crawford's explanation did not allay her fears, which revolve primarily around the sooty, small-particle emissions from local industries.
 
"Most of us who live in the area know the difference between before and after Kimberly-Clark," Hunter said.
 
"You see the dust everywhere. You see it along the road, dumped. You see it on vehicles on cars on siding, close to residential areas."
 
Hunter said although the soot causes an unsightly residue on everything, she is not concerned about cosmetic issues.

Her concern, she said, is health effects.

"My grandkids play out in the stuff, and it is not good. Kimberly-Clark keeps telling us it will be addressed, but they are no closer to getting it addressed. I am concerned about the long-term effects when our kids have to breathe it, and I would like to see something done. We keep coming to these meetings, but we never hear about enforcement. You should do a check. The board has an obligation to tell us if there is noncompliance."

Loudon County remains in noncompliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's small particulate emission standards. The air toxics study just completed by TDEC  and EPA did not address small particulates, but looked at chemicals and chemical compounds released into the air.
 
Hunter said she had obtained evidence that the small particulate emission violations were far more significant than plant representatives had indicated.

"I got the paperwork, and it is a significant violation. ... We are not talking a little bit elevated we are talking off the gauge."
 
Crawford said abnormal operating conditions had led to the elevated emissions incident, and that the plant had continuously looked for ways to address problems. "We now have a tool that will monitor continuously," he said.
 
"We are confident of a resolution because we can prevent a recurrence with the monitors in place."

Crosby said he was sympathetic with Hunter's concerns. "For four years you have been here and it has been an ongoing issue, despite repeated efforts to address."
 
Shirley Harrison, another citizen in attendance at the meeting, said she uses a machine at night for breathing problems, and changes the machine filter every three or four months.
 
"When I change the filter, it's black and gray from the pollution I'm breathing every night," Harrison said. "It's scary."

Harrison noted that nearly 6,000 people live around Kimberly-Clark and are breathing air containing those emissions at all times.

vicky.newman@news-herald.net

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11-01-2009