Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0002084
Received: 11/15/2013 1:32:11 PM
Commenter: Sanford Olson
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
I have noticed that when dust storms occur in Asia, our sunsets become more vivid. Although one might aesthetically appreciate the event, the phenomenon is a result of high-level winds transporting materials and chemicals across the Pacific Ocean. Within six days that which is burned in China is being breathed in the Northwest.
This January, residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. Hospitals saw spikes of more than 20 to 30 percent in patients complaining of respiratory problems. Ground-based sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported PM 2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Fine airborne particulate matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 microns (about one thirtieth the width of a human hair) is considered dangerous because it is small enough to enter the airway and alveolar system of the human lungs. Most PM 2.5 aerosol particles come from the burning of fossil fuels. The World Health Organization considers PM 2.5 to only be safe when it is below 25 micrograms/cubic meter.
During this period of record pollution, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing was 341. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous to all humans, not just those with heart or lung ailments. AQI below 50 is considered good. On January 12, AQI was 775 as measured by the U.S Embassy in Beijing—this level is off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scale—and PM 2.5 was 886 micrograms/cubic meter. The city of Harbin just recently experienced much worse levels of pollution as their central coal fired heating plants came on line for the winter.
This pollution is transported to the North American continent by prevailing winds. I have read that more than 70% of the mercury found in the Columbia Basin can be traced to China and other Asian sources. We do indeed live in a one-world ecosystem and one countries effluent will be shared with other more distant countries quite quickly.
Encouraging China and other Asian nations to depend upon relatively inexpensive coal from the western US, not only results in record hazardous air quality in China but results in the degradation of our air quality and an increase in health problems for our citizens. China gets the short-term economic gain; we both get the long-term pain of bad air quality, respiratory illnesses, and an altered global climate.
Therefore, I request that you study the cumulative effect of burning 44 million tons of Powder River Basin coal shipped from the Millennium Bulk Logistics Terminal on the air quality, human, and environmental health of Washington State.
Furthermore, a comprehensive study of the regional consequences of burning nearly 100 million tons of coal shipped from the 3 proposed Northwest terminals should be conducted. Serious studies cannot ignore the addition of 183 million tons of CO2 and associated toxic chemicals to our shared atmosphere and oceans. I believe there are both scientific and moral obligations upon the co-leads to evaluate the consequences of adding these enormous quantities of climate altering greenhouse gases to our planetary biosphere. Restricting impact studies to the footprint of a single coal export facility or transport system ignores the reality of the local, regional and global effects on atmospheric and oceanic chemistry and all living organisms from the continued use of this fossil fuel.