SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board released three health risk assessments this week for Union Pacific rail yards in the City of Industry, Colton (Bloomington) and the Intermodal Container Facility (ITCF-Dolores) in Long Beach. Diesel particulate matter emissions from rail yard activity significantly increases the cancer risks in nearby communities.
“Air quality around rail yards is in dire need of improvement. The critical information on these health risk assessments will provide us the means to design and implement a successful control strategy,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “These reports identify the sources within the yards that must be controlled, quantify their emissions, and define the public health risk created by those emissions.”
The draft health risk assessments show that diesel particulate matter emissions from the three railyards are about 11 tons per year for UP City of Industry, 16.5 tons per year for UP Colton and about 24 tons per year for ITCF-Dolores in Long Beach. Diesel particulate matter emissions from off-site stationary sources and trucks generated within one mile of the railyard boundaries are typically equal to two to three times greater than the actual railyard emissions.
At the ITCF/Dolores UP railyard, the cancer risk at or near the railyard is estimated to be about 1,200 chances per million based on a 70-year exposure duration. At the UP City of Industry and Colton railyards, the cancer risks are estimated to approach about 500 chances in a million at or near the railyards. Studies have shown that diesel particulate matter contributes over 70 percent of California’s estimated potential cancer risks levels, which are significantly higher than other toxic air contaminants such as benzene and formaldehyde.
As part of an effort to promote a comprehensive emissions reduction program, ARB in cooperation with UP, will conduct public meetings to present the results of the draft railyard health risk assessments to the affected communities. Each meeting is open to the public. ARB encourages community members and other interested parties to provide written and oral comments.
The schedule for public meetings is as follows:
• UP City of Industry Railyard – March 11 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the City Hall Council Chambers (15651 East Stafford Street, City of Industry)
• UP Colton (Bloomington) Railyard – March 12 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at the Bloomington High School Cafeteria (10750 Laurel Avenue, Bloomington)
• UP Dolores/ITCF Railyard – March 18 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm at the Silverado Park Social Hall (1545 W 31st Street, Long Beach)
ARB will accept public comments on the draft railyard health risk assessments for up to 30 days after the public meetings. Upon finalization of the process, future public meetings will be held within the next few months to discuss in additional feasible mitigation strategies for each railyard.
California leads the nation with the most extensive efforts to reduce locomotive and railyard emissions. Through a combination of state and federal regulations, incentive funding, binding agreements and voluntary actions by the railroad companies, California will see dramatic reductions in their airborne emissions, between 50-80 percent, depending on the individual railyard, as early as 2015. Because of significant mitigation measures put in place in the last 18 months, risk levels around major railyards have already been reduced by about 15 to 20 percent.
Some of California’s key locomotive and rail yard air pollution control measures and strategies are:
• California’s ultra low sulfur diesel fuel regulation (in effect since January 1, 2007) will reduce locomotive emissions by up to 30 tons per year for diesel particulate matter and 300 tons per year for oxides of nitrogen;
• Cargo handling equipment regulation (in effect since January 1, 2007) is expected to reduce diesel particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen by up to 80 percent by 2020;
• Heavy duty diesel new truck regulations adopted by both ARB and U.S. EPA, have set emission standards for 2007 and subsequent model year heavy-duty diesel engines which represent a 90 percent emission reduction of both diesel particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen compared to the 2004 model-year emission standards;
• Diesel-fueled heavy duty drayage truck regulation (approved in December 2007) will contribute to the port truck fleet modernization program reducing diesel particulate matter by 86 percent by 2010 and oxides of nitrate by 56 percent by 2014, as compared to the 2007 baseline;
• Tier 4 off-road diesel-fueled new engine emission standards (adopted in 2004 by both ARB and U.S. EPA) will require an after-treatment-based exhaust standards to achieve over a 90 percent emission reduction over current levels by 2020;
• Under the California yard locomotive replacement program, UP has deployed 61 gen-set and 10 electric hybrid yard locomotives in Southern California. BNSF has been operating four liquefied natural gas yard locomotives in downtown Los Angeles since the mid-1990s.
The draft health risk assessments will be available at each of the community meetings covering that facility. Electronic copies can be obtained at www.arb.ca.gov/railyard/hra/hra.htm. Meeting notices are located at www.arb.ca.gov/railyard/community/community.htm#mtgs.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.