Pacific Steel Emission Reports Turned Over to Air District

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday September 12, 2006

Pacific Steel Casting handed over their emissions inventory report to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District early last week, according to PSC spokesperson Elizabeth Jewell. 

The recently released emissions inventory report contains raw data from in and around Pacific Steel Casting (PSC) which is being reviewed by the air district, she said. The report was prepared by environmental scientists on behalf of Pacific Steel. 

“Pacific Steel is very pleased that the report has gone to the air district and has complete faith in its findings,” said Jewell, a partner of Aroner, Jewell and Ellis. 

The report however is not complete, according to officials at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Data for June and July was not provided as required by the district. 

PSC was sued by the air district on Aug. 14 for “failure to meet statutory deadlines for reporting air emissions, and for violating the schedule contained in a recent settlement agreement designed to resolve an ongoing series of air quality complaints.”  

“PSC has submitted their test reports to the air district for review and approval,” confirmed Brian Bateman, director of the engineering division of the air district. “The emissions inventory report is however missing source testing reports for June and July which need to be there for the test reports to be complete.” 

Bateman said that when the district receives the complete emission report from Pacific Steel it will make it available to the public. 

“We will also be running a parallel review ourselves,” he said. “Only after the complete emissions inventory report has been finalized will the heath risk assessment report be prepared.” 

Bateman added that PSC was in the process of putting together the remaining source testing reports which would be submitted soon. Pacific Steel will be getting together with the air district today (Tuesday) to discuss the report and other relevant matters. 

The report measures toxic substances that leave the factory unfiltered. 

“These are the actual raw toxic materials. Some of the materials that were found were Chromium 6, Antimony, Lead, and Cadmium,” Jewell said, adding that the amounts shown for each are infinitely small. 

“The amounts of the toxic substances that were found present do not violate the limits established in PSC’s permit to operate which was granted to them by the air district,” she said. “In reality, if you are driving a car you are emitting the same amount of these toxic substances.” 

Jewell said that it was difficult to draw any conclusions about the possible health effects with the current raw data. 

“It is important to consider PSC’s immediate environment,” Jewell said. “It has a refuse center, Berkeley Asphalt, railroad traffic and eight lanes of very congested freeway traffic with diesel exhaust. All in all PSC is located in a densely industrial area.” 

Pacific Steel has agreed to come back to the City of Berkeley for independent review. The city has hired the private firm TetraTech to review the emissions inventory report. 

Jewell also lauded the progress report on the Carbon Absorption Unit which would be constructed on PSC’s Plant 3. 

“The Carbon Absorption Unit will significantly reduce odor,” she said. “We have received the building permit for this from the City of Berkeley and will be starting to build as soon as possible. We are hoping to complete it within 30 days.” 

The lawsuit filed by BAAQMD against Pacific Steel alleges that PSC violated the settlement agreement by not building the Carbon Absorption Unit in time. Jewell said that the delay in building was due to the city withholding the building permit for more time than had been expected by PSC. 

“When we first came up with the idea of the carbon absorption unit, we were not even aware that we were required to have a building permit for it. So we were not expecting any delays,” she said. 

Jewell added that PSC would be responding to the lawsuit within the 30-day time period it had to do so.  

The hearing for the Communities for Better Environment lawsuit against PSC will come up on Sept. 20 in San Francisco federal court. The lawsuit alleges that PSC violated the air district’s permit with respect to the amount of emissions from the steel foundry in Berkeley. 

“We are looking for a denial from the judge on the basis of the findings in the Emissions Inventory Report which clearly show that the emissions are well within the allowed limits,” Jewell said.