BY KELLIE SCHMITT Californian staff writer email@example.com
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will dispatch vans to monitor Arvin's air this week to see if there's any truth to the complaint that the new monitor doesn't accurately reflect the city's pollution.
The district hopes its mobile effort during a bad ozone week -- an air alert will be in effect from Tuesday to Thursday -- will clarify the concerns that prompted Arvin residents to start their own monitoring effort.
"If they're willing to create good air quality monitoring in Arvin, it's welcome," said Sal Partida, the head of the group pushing for better air quality. "We need all the help we can get."
Partida and other residents were angry when they learned the state's Air Resources Board moved the longtime Arvin monitor after losing the lease on that land. The board moved the monitor to Di Giorgio Elementary School, about two miles away, where it has registered cleaner readings.
Last week, those residents learned they will receive $130,000 from the California Endowment to monitor their air, readings that can't be officially used but may fuel more discussions.
Now, the air district is adding to the effort with portable monitors it'll send around downtown Arvin this week, said Seyed Sadredin, the executive director. Sadredin said it's likely that downtown Arvin may have cleaner air than the Di Giorgio site since that's the end of the so-called bucket, where smoggy air accumulates.
But, if it finds that other Arvin locales do have higher readings, that could build a case for a new, permanent station in one of those places, he said.
Meanwhile, the state board said it is comfortable with the current Arvin location because its goal is to monitor the overall ozone in the region, not a specific locality, said Dimitri Stanich, a public information officer:
"Our focus is wide areas, and the local district has better insight into local issues."
Sadredin said he's hopeful the valley will make it through this week of high temperatures, a few fires and stagnant conditions without a violation that would trigger a $29 million federal fine.
This week, Sadredin clarified that one violation is defined by any one site surpassing the one-hour, 125 ppb limit three times in three years.
Last year, Clovis was the only site that crossed that threshold three times. That means that monitor has to stay below 125 ppb this year if the valley wants to stay "clean" for this year and next, after which time the fee could be removed.
Other sites such as Arvin, which surpassed the threshold twice last year, could cross the limit once more over next two years without triggering a violation. And sites like Bakersfield, which stayed below the limit all of last year -- could surpass it three times over this year and next and not affect the valley's winning record.