Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Air Quality `Grim' Pollution Violations in St. Louis Area May Lead to Curbs on Development

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Air Quality `Grim' Pollution Violations in St. Louis Area May Lead to Curbs on Development

Article excerpt

The St. Louis area already is ahead of last year in air pollution violations, raising the possibility that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will impose industrial development restrictions or cut federal highway aid.

"It's looking grim that we will be bumped up to serious nonattainment," said Dave Shekleton of the American Lung Association.

St. Louis is classified as moderate nonattainment, meaning the area has not reached federal standards for holding down ozone pollution.

Being raised to serious nonattainment could mean tighter restrictions on how much pollution autos and factories could put in the air or cuts in federal money for highway construction.

As part of its campaign to educate the public, the American Lung Association declared Thursday and Friday as red air-quality days. Shekleton said pollution conditions were expected to improve over the weekend.

An official with the environmental agency's regional office in Kansas City said Friday that sanctions were not a certainty. Royan Teter, an environmental engineer with the agency, said it was possible that one industrial development restriction in effect could be lifted through the grant of a waiver.

This restriction was put into effect in January because of nitrogen oxide, an ingredient of ozone or smog. The restriction requires two tons of air pollution from existing sources be removed for every one ton added by a new plant. The agency is considering a request from Missouri and Illinois for a waiver.

Teter said St. Louis was facing a separate deadline on Nov. 15 related to pollution that comes from autos, paint and cleaning solvents. He said penalties would depend on analysis of air data, a possible new ozone standard, and whether Missouri had moved ahead with tougher treadmill tests on cars to eliminate more exhaust.

Shekleton reported that since May 20, the 17 air monitoring stations in the Illinois and Missouri sections of the St. Louis area had recorded seven pollution "exceedances."

These were "unhealthful" readings above the agency's standards for at least one hour on three days at five of the 17 sites. Shekleton said that last year, the first violation did not occur until June 24. …

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