On January 9th, 2007, the Council of Kulpmont Borough -- a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania -- voted unanimously to pass the toughest mercury and dioxin standards in the U.S. This follows on our previous victory getting Pennsylvania's West Reading Borough to unanimously pass a mercury-only version of the ordinance on July 18th, 2006. Both communities faced proposed crematoria.
We wrote the law to require that any crematorium or medical waste incinerator monitor continuously for mercury and dioxins and that all emissions data must be reported real-time to the public via a website. It also sets very strict standards for mercury and dioxin emissions that will result in fines and possible imprisonment if these standards are violated. The Kulpmont Borough version also requires that any facility requiring an air pollution permit be at least 900 feet from a residential property.
On January 21, 2013, Peters Township (Washington County) passed an ordinance requiring continuous monitoring of mercury and dioxins from crematoria, as well as regulating a few other pollutants. See articles on this here and here.
Pennsylvania's Air Pollution Control Act includes a section that was incorporated in state law as 35 P.S. 4012 -- a statute that specifically allows local governments in the state to have stricter air pollution laws than the state or federal clean air laws. We're taking advantage of this to create strong local air pollution laws that create levels of accountability that air polluting corporations will not want to operate under. We hope to see these sorts of laws used in other states, where legally possible.
We now plan to use these types of ordinances to protect communities from other types of polluting industries such as coal facilities, ethanol biorefineries and incinerators. We'd like to see mercury and dioxin emissions regulated for landfill gas burners, as they are worse emitters than coal plants and trash incinerators, respectively. For larger industrial facilities like the many coal and ethanol plants planned for our state, we hope to see our more comprehensive version used -- one which covers about 30 pollutants.
Last year (through our public comments, not local laws), we managed to get the Sun Oil refinery in Philadelphia to become the first oil refinery in the U.S. to be required to use Continuous Emissions Monitors (CEMs) for measuring particulate matter emissions.
We're tired of seeing corporations insist that their emissions are somehow "acceptable" or "safe" without even doing the continuous monitoring necessary to know what they're putting into our air. There are now over 30 chemicals that can be monitored on a continuous basis. These continuous emissions monitoring systems are being tested and verified by EPA. See www.ejnet.org/toxics/cems/ for links to resources on this.
If you'd like to explore using this sort of air pollution ordinance to combat facilities in your community, please contact us for details.