Picture this: A mom is taking her infant daughter for a walk in the stroller in her neighborhood when a chemical release fills the air with noxious foul smells that sicken them both. Nearby other families have their homes invaded by the same toxic stench, – What can they do? Luckily for them, they can call environmental inspectors, part of an elite team of trained enviro-cops are available 24/7/365 via an 800 number to swoop in and catch the toxic criminal who has dumped in their neighborhood.
The Air Quality Inspectors jump in their official vehicles and race to the scene of the suspected environmental offence to protect the innocent folks just trying to take the baby for a stroll and live peacefully in their homes. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, it is because in a bizarre twist of fate, the toxic cops arrive armed with only 1 piece of ‘built-in’ equipment with which they will carry out their investigation to gather hard evidence so that the agencies legal team can prosecute the violator: their noses.
Did they rush off so quickly, they forgot to pack their CSI equipment in the trunk?
Nope! It’s the official policy of the government agency to have them just packin their noses! That’s it? In this day of high tech bomb and chemical sniffers, special puffers that blow air up our pants at the airport and even highly trained dogs that can ID cocaine or fruit crossing our borders, these Air Police just bring their noses to gather legal evidence to prosecute lawbreakers?
It’s a joke, right? Yes it is, but it is also reality. And no one that gets dumped on by chemical polluters is laughing. The laugh track is completely filled already by the belly busting guffaws of refineries, chemical plants, steel mills and their high priced lawyers and consultants.
Surely there is reasonable explanation for this situation, you say. It must be happening in oil country or some cancer alley where polluters reign and green policies have long been plowed under by industry lobbyists and their political hacks? Nope, wrong again!
It’s happening in the greenest state in the nation and the self proclaimed capitol of enviro-crazies: the San Francisco Bay Area, including right in Berkeley California, home to the most lefty liberal wild eyed green policies in the Nation!
Huh? That’s right, why even the almost pinko commie Mayor sits on the Board of the Agency of which we speak. What agency funded by my tax dollars is that you ask? The Bay Area Air Quality Management District or BAAQMD headquartered right in another enviro loony town known as San Francisco!!!
How could that be? If this kind of thing can happen in California – is this happening everywhere in the USA? Do all of our Environmental cops roam around responding to community complaints of being poisoned by polluters wearing nothing more than what God gave them to smell, i.e., their snouts? Say it ain’t so!
Well luckily it ain’t so everywhere in the good old US of A. Not in Hamilton County, Ohio – that bastion of environmental leadership, home to the luckless Bengals football team and chemical plants and factories along the Ohio River (not the one that caught fire!) also known as Cincinnati. Huh?
That’s right, good old stinky Cincy. Yup, the folks at the Hamilton County EPA, use actual air monitors to take samples of toxic odors when they respond to community complaints – a simple little stainless steel can that can suck in whatever people are breathing and can have it tested for dozens of toxins.
That way the results can be matched with chemicals used and released by nearby sources. Then the agency can prosecute if necessary and work with the company to prevent it from happening again. Not exactly Rocket Science is it. No. More like common sense.
But wait, it gets better. Not only do the intelligent folks at Ham County Ohio take samples, but in recognition that their inspectors might get there too late to grab a sample (due to the terrible traffic on I-75 or I-71), these bright folks will give a sample device to the community watchdog and train them to use it next time.
There’s more – you bet! They take care of the lab costs ($300 plus bucks!) and give the results back to the community for their information and use. The program is funded by the increased fines and penalties levied on toxic dumpers who get caught in the act – not the taxpayer! Amazing.
This sounds like a common sense idea we should adopt everywhere, doesn’t it? Well thanks to the folks at Hamilton County and Global Community Monitor (GCM) – that’s just what we’re working on. Right now, GCM has put this model program right square in the laps of the BAAQMD and the Berzerkeley Mayor Tom Bates who sits on their Board and wants to be the Chairman of the agency in 2011.
What can you do? Follow this link and send an e-mail to the BAAQMD staff and Mayor Bates and tell them what you think? Do our Air Police deserve some evidence gathering tools like people in Ohio? Or should we keep sending out unarmed cops and tell them to sniff real hard and get the job done? How about arming community members with an air monitoring can so they can suck in toxic air into something other than their bodies?