Oh Come on Now
December 2nd, 2009
Oh Come on Now!
One of the most famous lines about government is about to come true in South Dakota. It will be especially true in Union County. “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”
The state of South Dakota’s DENR has put up three air quality monitoring stations to monitor emissions from the proposed refinery site. I don’t know why they didn’t save the state some money and just give it to Hyperion.
When we went out on Monday and took air samples, we also went to two of the three monitoring sites to see what their relationship was with the refinery. What a joke. The first site is 1 ¼ miles south of St. Paul Lutheran church, which is four miles straight south of the refinery site. Wind for The monitoring station was blocked from the south and east by a shelter belt. It is blocked from the south and southwest by the farm and outbuildings. There is a gravel road less than 100 yards west from the station. But it does have a clear shot at the refinery except for one thing. It will not be in line with the prevailing winds to sample anything. During the winter months, the wind blows from the northwest to the southeast. The monitoring station is directly south. So unless the wind is directly out of the north, the place is useless. I guess you could say that this site is downwind, but downwind from what? The monitoring station is checking for toxic chemicals, but from what the state says, it is only 6 major ones. What about gasses like benzene, ammonia, carbon disulfide and xylene? These are also prevalent with refinery output. What about VOC’s like sulfur, sulfur dioxide, lead and mercury? Oh, I forgot those are particulate matter which they are not monitoring for. Silly me!
We went to the second station which is exactly like the first one except that it is straight north 2 miles and 2 miles west of the refinery. It was right across the street from the Spink Café. What are they going to monitor here, bacon grease, hamburgers and French fries? That’s what we could smell. It had a clear view of the southeast, but the wind was blocked from the north and northwest by houses, barns and garages.
Now really, how dumb do they think we are? But wait a minute I’m not finished yet.
The third station, which we didn’t visit, is 9 miles north-northwest from the refinery site and it monitors ambient air for ozone except there is a bill hill to the north and hills to the southeast. Guess what folks, refineries don’t emit ozone. It emits gasses that cause ozone when mixed with different chemicals, but not ozone. Did they put a monitoring station 9 miles south southeast of the refinery site? Nope, that would be in Elk Point, and you know they don’t care what comes down the pike as long as it is green and spends at Wally World. And you know the refinery doesn’t want to monitor what comes up from Elk Point. (put your own answer in here)
Now that I’ve bashed everyone about this, let’s look at the real purpose of monitoring stations, and where the sites should be located. This information by the way comes from an authority on this subject, Mr. Denny Larson from San Francisco, California. He has been in this business a long time and believe me; he knows what he is talking about and Hyperion knows it as well.
When you set up monitoring stations, you need to have at least 1000 meters (1500 meters in a mile) cleared around the monitoring site so that there is only a minimal chance you will get bad readings. The monitoring stations should be reciprocal of each other so that you can compare the readings before the wind hits the refinery as well as after it leaves so you can tell whether or not the emissions come from the refinery or outside of the boundary. One needs to be able to tell what the source of the emission is and the only way you can do that is to document the occurrence. As an example, the other day the state said that an anomaly at the union county park was caused by dust from a combine. Now how are they going to be able to tell that when the reporting station is in Pierre???
When you have a monitoring station 9 miles from the refinery, who knows what the source of the emission could be? They should be reporting every 10 minutes, so that if there is a flare occurrence, they will immediately know and be able to take action. Is the state afraid to put a monitoring station on the fenceline because they are scared of what they might be reading? I would bet on it.
Another thing that would be available is what is called “grab samples” which allow the public to take immediate samples when there are large accidental releases. (Accidents??) This is like what we did on Sunday when we were learning how to use the bucket. If one suddenly smells a strange odor they can get the bucket, take a sample and send it to the lab.
These monitoring stations should be manned and operated by a disinterested third party to prevent a bias determination when a sample is taken. You don’t think Hyperion would report immediately when there is an accident do you? Or would they even report the correct makeup of the sample. I would think they might tend to under report their findings.
In short folks, letting the fox guard the chicken house is not a good idea, you tend to lose a lot of chickens that way.