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Car Smog Trade-Off Plan Ignores L.A. Harbor Threat

June 15, 1993

The South Coast Air Quality Management District's decision to allow Unocal to buy, test and destroy 600 old cars ("Unocal Seeks 500 Cars for Clean-Air Tests," May 27) instead of making pollution-reducing plant modifications, ignores the health concerns of harbor area residents and schools.

The Carson, Wilmington, Harbor City and San Pedro population is surrounded by no less than six major oil refineries. These refineries pose potential health risks due to the quantity and type of emissions they exhaust daily. One need only read the annual list of the tons of waste materials emitted from these refineries to realize that the harbor area is what is known as a "hot spot" (an area of heavy industrial activity and waste emissions.)

The smog trade-off program allows a company to earn credits by reducing emissions throughout the South Coast District, e.g., destroying old cars. These credits may then be used by a company to actually increase emissions in specific locations.

The smog trade-off program, while addressing the overall emissions in the entire South Coast District, overlooks the fact that the "hot spot" in the harbor region will remain status quo. Indeed, there has been talk of at least one refinery expanding its production by using smog trade-off credits to offset the increase of polluting emissions accompanying this expansion. If other refineries in the area follow suit, the hot spot will only grow hotter.

The SCAQMD should be concerned with the impact that any increase in heavy industry will have on the day-to-day quality of health for harbor area residents and schoolchildren. The SCAQMD needs to work together with local industries to lower the levels of waste emitted, specifically in the harbor area.

While plant modifications to reduce emissions may entail expensive upfront costs, overall savings to the community will be realized through substantially reduced health care spending. As industries utilize smog-control technologies, the harbor area hot spot will cool and reduce the medical costs associated with asthma and other health problems aggravated by smog.



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