Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, August 14, 2015

AQMD: 710 Freeway tunnel would raise cancer risk to unacceptable levels

http://www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20150813/aqmd-710-freeway-tunnel-would-raise-cancer-risk-to-unacceptable-levels

By Steve Scauzillo, August 13, 2015




 

 This 2008 staff file photo shows where the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel extension would start at Valley Boulevard.


In a detailed critique, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said the draft environmental impact report for the proposed 710 Freeway extension failed to estimate emissions of carbon monoxide and airborne particulates and that the tunnel project would raise the cancer risk to unacceptable levels.

The eight-page letter from Ian MacMillan, the anti-smog district’s planning and rules manager, says the lack of basic air quality analysis renders the draft EIR useless to the agency or those deciding on a tunnel or other transit options.

“Decision-makers would not be able to use the EIR/EIS as written to determine if the project will adversely affect air quality in the local area,” the district concluded.

One part of the EIR places the cancer risk of the project at 149 chances per million people exposed to pollutants, well above the district’s standard threshold of 10 chances per million. Yet, the report concludes that the cancer risks are “less than significant” based on faulty data.

The agency has requested that Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro, which paid $40 million for the study released in March, revise the air quality portion of the document.

It also suggested that Caltrans and Metro contact the four-county air district to begin meetings on permit applications, something apparently not yet done. Any air pollution controls on the exhaust will require a permit from the district.

No analysis of a localized impact, also known as a hot spots study, was ever done, MacMillan wrote. For example, if the 4.5-mile gap from Alhambra to Pasadena is built underground as a tunnel, the study needed to determine the concentrations of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide at portals and near ventilation stacks.

The letter points out that Caltrans is aware of hot spots studies since it is common practice among many government agencies and was conducted for the I-710 Corridor project EIR, just south of the 710 North extension project.

“This lack of analysis is especially concerning as the tunnel alternatives will focus all of the vehicle emissions along the entire tunnel to the portal and ventilation stack areas,” MacMillan wrote.
A letter from Alhambra supports the tunnel alternative as not only the best way to move traffic but to improve air quality.

Alhambra comments that a tunnel project would reduce the higher cancer risks currently experienced by residents of Alhambra and nearby communities from traffic gridlock at the 710 terminus on Valley Boulevard and along arterial streets.

Building a tunnel would reduce smog and air pollutants in Alhambra and Monterey Park and for “residents along local streets and arterials in the southern communities and along the I-10 who suffer a disproportionate impact from the pass-through traffic and associated emissions,” according to the Alhambra letter to Caltrans dated Aug. 5 and signed by Leland C. Dolley, special counselor for the city.

South Pasadena Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian said the district letter reaches many of the same conclusions as South Pasadena and other cities opposed to the freeway tunnel. She wants to see the air quality analysis revised.

“It would be the height of arrogance to not take the concerns of the AQMD seriously,” she said.