Image from The Wizard of Oz

So, what’s new in Arvin, California?

The Arvin community has taken matters into their own hands-conducting their own air monitoring.  We are yet to see any real action from the Air District.

One year into the Bucket Brigade project, The Committee for a Better Arvin has taken 11 air samples for VOC’s and sulfurs.  They have been collecting data on ozone pollution daily and are planning to get a particulate monitor up and running by the end of the year.

Turns out, the air monitoring results prove that the air in Arvin can cause negative health effects both over short and long term exposure.  We’ve even detected elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, the same gas that was responsible for the two workers deaths last fall.

Residents have called attention to the results through community meetings as well as submitted these air results to to local news media outlets and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

So, what has the Air District done about it?
Not much!

They called, gave their PR spiel and sent along the odor complaint line.  Turns out the Air District claims it isn’t their responsibility to monitor the air quality in Arvin?!

So, who’s responsibility is it?

The residents of Arvin need comprehensive air monitoring done near Community Recycling & Resource Recovery.  We’ve uncovered elevated levels of toxic gases and people are getting sick, yet the Air District is telling folks that everything is fine.  Although they claim it’s not their responsibility to monitor the air, they have taken a handful of air samples near the facility, but a handful is not enough.  Residents of Arvin need air monitoring done at night and in the early morning hours when they’ve documented the worst pollution incidents.

Sure, the Air District attends just enough community meetings to look like they are interested and create enough hoops to jump through to make community residents feel like it’s their fault that they cannot get the public information documents that they are looking for.  But- just what is it that they do to protect the health and safety of Arvin residents?

The problem here is that the air district is not functioning in an efficient way to protect Arvin residents from toxic air pollution.  Whether it’s confusion over jurisdiction or the inability to collect air samples at times when the community knows high pollution levels are present.  Either way, the inefficiency of the air district to adequately monitor the air in Arvin is once again favoring industry.  So residents will continue to take on the responsibility of monitoring their own air in their fight for clean air and a safe environment.

PS: For those wondering, the Air District claims that air monitoring near Community Recycling is the Health Department’s responsibility.