Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elysian Valley: Metrolink Pollution - It's What You Don't See That Can Kill You

Photo: Grove Pashley, 2011.  View from an Elysian Valley backyard looking toward the Metrolink yard in Cypress Park. (Click on photos to enlarge.)  

If you see or smell diesel exhaust coming from the Metrolink Maintenance Facility on San Fernando Road, the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) recommends you call 1-800-CUT-SMOG and file a confidential report.

However, the AQMD told Northeast community leaders at a meeting on January 4, 2012, that they only can investigate and possibly issue an order to comply to clean up "visible emissions."   It's nuisance abatement.

The AQMD acknowledged that they DO NOT take air quality samples when they come out to investigate complaints of the Metrolink facility. 

The AQMD, the agency tasked with protecting the health of the community, does not test for the stuff that can kill us, fine particulate matter (PM10 & PM2.5) when investigating a major polluter like a rail yard.  You can't see or smell the microscopic PM10 or PM2.5.

PM2.5 is particularly dangerous and gets down deep in our lungs causing serious long term damage, especially in children whose lungs are still developing.  See the landmark USC Children's Health Study

The AQMD prefers to use computer modeling and average PM, despite the number of studies that point to a distinct drop off in PM at 1000 feet from large sources of Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) like rail yards, ports and freeways.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, January 3, 2012.*  Shot from Corralitas Drive looking toward Elysian Valley. That's not fog, we'd had Santa Ana Winds-blown, bone dry weather for days*An earlier version incorrectly had January 4, 2012 on this photo.

Diesel Particulate Matter is even more dangerous because of the large number of toxic chemicals in it. 

Since rail service yards are places where large numbers of trains idle in a small area (in this case, for hours at a time, around the clock, 7 days a week) high concentrations of DPM are released into the adjacent neighborhoods.  Elysian Valley & Cypress Park are at a distinct disadvantage because the topography of the adjacent hills create an inversion layer trapping the pollutants in a small area.  

Metrolink may be removing cars from the road, but they are concentrating the emissions in the neighborhoods of Elysian Valley & Cypress Park.  It's cheaper to pay the public health bills for the uninsured than it is to upgrade the Metrolink's fleet of locomotives.

Come to the Community Meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2012.  Hold Metrolink responsible for their disrespect of the Elysian Valley & Cypress Park communities.