Delaware City community groups began
a new, citizen-led air monitoring project Friday, with help from an
international organization that focuses on pollution and other environmental burdens on residents near
The yearlong “Bucket Brigade”
initiative aims to capture as many as 60 air samples over a 10-month period,
with each sample to be checked for dozens of compounds, including many known to
escape from PBF’s 210,000-barrel-per-day
Delaware City Refinery.
San Francisco-based Global Community
Monitor provided the sampling equipment and record-keeping guidance for the
Delaware City Environmental Coalition project, which was financed by a grant
from polluter penalty funds managed by the Department of Natural
Resources and Environmental Control.
An earlier community pollution study, paid for with grants from DNREC and
PBF itself, found an increase in local pollution levels after PBF reopened the
plant in 2011, with some compounds exceeding public health limits. State
officials cautioned afterward that the high levels could not be linked with
certainty to the refinery.
“If you think about it, people are
already monitoring the air quality with their lungs,” said Denny Larson, GCM’s
executive director. “But there’s really no quantification of what people are
Comments were not available late
Friday from DNREC or PBF.
GCM previously assisted in a
citizen-led monitoring program organized by Claymont residents after years of
unchecked metallic soot and mercury emissions from what is now the Evraz
Claymont Steel plant. DNREC officials have said the plant has made substantial
progress after years of reform demands and shutdown threats targeting earlier
The coalition scheduled a class for
today to teach volunteers how to use one-time sampling
devices as well as how to prepare detailed records about odors, soot or other
monitoring effort is under development that will focus on soot and other
pollutants associated with crude oil tanker and rail car loading and unloading. PBF recently
announced plans for a major expansion of its rail tank car unloading complex,
to allow expanded use of heavy, low-cost sulfur-rich crude oil from Midwestern
shale formations and oil sands in Canada.