State Steps Up Fairbanks Air Quality Advisories, Enabling Enforcement

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The State has taken a step to enable enforcement of smoke regulations in Fairbanks.  The Department of Environmental Conservation has begun issuing air quality advisories on days when fine particulate pollution levels exceed federal standards.  The Borough monitors local air quality and issues its own advisories, but its power to regulate use of home heating appliances such as wood stoves, was eliminated by voters last fall.  DEC acting Air Quality Division Director Alice Edwards says that’s forced the state to step up its role.

Edwards says a state regulation limits dense smoke emissions when air quality is poor.

Edwards says if the opacity regulation is violated the state can take steps beginning with making polluters aware of the problem.  She says the state is following up with some polluters, including around the Wood River School, where there have been numerous air quality complaints.  She says there’s a process for clamping down on people who are unresponsive to requests to curb emissions.

Edwards says the enforcement process is slow, and that the goal is primarily to tackle the smoke problem with a broader approach.  The borough is already running a successful old stove and boiler removal, repair or replacement program.  Edwards says state and local government also plan to broaden the air quality focus to clamp down on other sources like motor vehicles and power plants.  The Environmental Protection Agency requires a Fairbanks fine particulate pollution compliance plan by December 2012.

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