Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0002220
Received: 11/18/2013 1:36:25 AM
Commenter: Gregory Wolgamot
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 am a surgical pathologist. I also did a PhD at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and now am the Chair of the Tumor Board at a major Washington hospital. Tumor Board is the weekly meeting where physicians review all of the new Whatcom cancer diagnoses, and plan the next steps for treatment. In 2012 there were 1703 patients on the Tumor board lists, which averages to 33 cases per week. As such, much of my life revolves around cancer, and I see first hand the dramatic impact that cancer has on peoples' lives.
My concern for Millenium addresses cancer. In the last 10-15 years, there has been much medical research that shows that air pollution is worse than we thought for people. The effects of air pollution are not hypothetical, but real and measureable. Many of the reviewed studies, some of which were conducted in Seattle area, show significant health effects of exposure to everyday airborne pollutant levels that are below national EPA guidelines. The data show a linear effect with no specific "safe threshold."
A recent study from the US Environmental Protection Agency states that, "The Puget Sound region ranks in the country's top five percent of risk for exposure to toxic air pollution." A study in 2010 by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the University of Washington showed that "Diesel emissions remain the largest contributor to potential cancer risk in the Puget Sound area". http://www.pscleanair.org/news/newsroom/releases/2011/03_11_11_NATA.aspx
The conclusion that airborne pollutants pose a significant and measurable health risk was also found by the American Lung Association, in their review "State of the Air 2011", and by the American Heart Association, in their 2011 review "Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease”.
A recent Health Assessment was done in Spokane. The Health Risk Study for the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad Spokane Rail Yard conducted by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency in 2011 was an analysis of cancer risk from diesel particulate matter (DPM) in the areas surrounding the BNSF rail yard in Spokane. This report concluded that there was an increased risk of lung cancer in the residential areas surrounding the rail yard. They showed in clear graphic displays - using lines like elevation lines of a map, the several-fold increased risk of cancer by living in neighborhoods close to the rail yard (see graphic below).
I request that the scoping include an analysis of the increased risk of cancer from diesel particular matter, in terms that are easy to understand by the public. Because the rail lines transect many major population centers in Washington, and several in Montana, these issues need to be assessed along the entire project corridor from both locomotives and ships.
From a physician's perspective, it would be unethical and irresponsible to exclude communities from the analysis that have no control over the decision making process.
Health Risk Study for the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad Spokane Railyard, September 6, 2011, Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, Charles Snyder, Environmental Engineer
Studer, C. “Health Risk Study for the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad Spokane Rail yard”, Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, first revision September 2011