By Mary Maushard
Keeping its partners in the know about air quality falls within the purview of the Baltimore Port Alliance (BPA) Environmental Committee.
To that end, the committee sponsored a compliance assistance workshop this fall for 30 representatives of Port-related businesses and community members.
The workshop focused on informing the community about what state regulators and public health researchers are doing in regard to air quality and their expectations for clean air throughout the Greater Baltimore area, said Rupert Denney, co-chair of the Environmental Committee.
Attendees heard from representatives of the BPA, the Air & Radiation Department at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Environmental Health and Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Public Health.
Karen Irons, Program Manager for the Air Quality Permits Program at MDE, reviewed the types of permits required in construction and operations to ensure that air pollution sources comply with regulations. She also stressed that her office can help businesses understand and navigate the regulatory process.
Tim Shepherd, Chief of MDE’s Mobile Sources Program, gave an overview of engine emission standards for marine and nonroad engines, the benefits of new engine technology and funds available through Maryland’s Volkswagen Mitigation Plan to replace older diesel equipment with newer, cleaner equipment.
JHU’s School of Public Health is putting stationary and portable air-monitoring devices throughout the region to measure pollution and capture detailed data that can assess concentrations of pollutants, explained Kirsten Koehler, Associate Professor from the Environmental Health and Engineering Department.
George (Tad) Aburn, Director of MDE’s Air & Radiation Administration, discussed improvements in Maryland’s air quality during the last 10 years. One of the major contributors to cleaner air is the Diesel Equipment Upgrade Program. With federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies have helped diesel operators replace old equipment, thus reducing emissions. Aburn said this has led to a significant reduction in nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and ozone emissions.
By keeping all constituencies informed, “the BPA is continuing its active approach to ensuring the well-being of the communities surrounding the Port,” said Denney.