April 12 was a “hazardous” day for air quality in Western Massachusetts – a designation the EPA AirNow site defines as “health warnings of emergency conditions” when the “entire population is more likely to be affected”.
Pollution starts to peak around 9 am on the animation below and steadily worsens into the afternoon.
Yet apparently snowed by claims that the Palmer Renewable Energy 35 MW wood-burner planned for Springfield MA will be the “cleanest” yet (where have we heard that before…?) state officials seem determined to issue an air pollution permit to the plant, which will be one of the largest, if not the largest, particle emitters in the four western MA counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire.
We’ve already posted about how Springfield’s kids have blood lead levels of concern at twice the state average, and asthma at twice the state average.Springfield is an environmental justice community, too, a factor that was not considered in the siting process for the plant, despite the Massachusetts EJ policy.
It’s only April and Western MA is choking on bad air. Meanwhile the Palmer plant is lined up for the massive government handout of tens of millions in stimulus funds to develop their polluting plant. Can common sense prevail? The State needs to deny the air permit or find some way to zero out emissions so that the particulate burden does not increase.