Residents to hear about air monitoring efforts

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For several years city, state and federal officials, along with citizen activists have tried to close the 50-year-old coal-fired power plant that sits on Alexandrias waterfront. While the health risks are not definitively known, those who live and work near the plant say that their respiratory health has been affective.

The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry has been monitoring air quality near Mirants Potomac River Generating Station in Alexandria and will talk to residents about the next steps.

ATSDR reviewed existing data related to the plants emissions in January, 2006, at the request of Dr. Charles Konigsberg, Alexandrias public health director. We wanted ATSDR to take a look at the existing data and comment on the public health implications of emissions from the plant, Konigsberg said.

In January, 2007, ATSDR sent Konigsberg a letter stating that there were significant data deficiencies. At that time, we decided to take things a step further and set up monitoring stations near the plant to collect our own information, said Lora Werner, a senior regional health specialist with the Agency.

For six weeks in June and July, ATSDR placed ten monitoring stations within one mile of the plant. These monitoring stations are outside those already in place through the regulatory agencies, Werner said. They are intended to collect data from where people live, breathe and work.

Monitoring stations are collecting data on sulfur dioxide emissions, the emission of particulate matter both at the 2.5 and 10 micron level and data regarding some metals. Our goal is to determine if there is a health risk, what that risk is and to make recommendations about what should be done if there is such a risk, Werner said. We also want to know if there is no health risk and to get that information out into the community as well.

While the monitoring is now complete, the results will not be available until some time in 2008. We will release a report that simply contains the data and then another report that discusses the implications of that data, Werner said. This week, we just want to be available so that people can ask questions and understand our timelines.

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