Release 98-16

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                CONTACT:          Jerry Martin
April 21, 1998                                                                                                      Allan Hirsch
                                                                                                                             (916) 322-2990

ARB Conducts Bay Area AQMD Program Evaluation

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today announced results of its 1998 program review of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). In that report the ARB ranked the Bay Area district's enforcement and permitting programs among California's top 10 percent of local air quality agencies.

        ARB Chairman John Dunlap said, "This report shows the Bay Area district is among the outstanding air quality agencies in California, and its clean air programs are national leaders."

        The program review, the ARB's first of the BAAQMD since 1988, noted the district's compliance rate among medium and large sized facilities (excluding refineries) was about 95 percent. ARB inspectors consider that level "very desirable" and recommended it as a goal for all air quality agencies.

        ARB inspectors also found excellent compliance rates (95 percent or better) at four Contra Costa refineries reviewed during the evaluation. A significant percentage of emission-related violations occurred at sources with connector joints that emitted more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of hydrocarbon, due in part to the BAAQMD's stringent rule. However, total defects found at pipe and equipment connecting joints inspected at those refineries ranged between two and five percent, again considered excellent by ARB staff. The report notes that, "the allowable leakage level in this district is very low at 100 ppm. In other districts the corresponding leak standard is as high as 1,000 to 10,000 ppm."

        Defect rates for booted nozzles at 19 percent for retail gasoline service stations was higher compared to levels found in other districts. Also, the defect rate in the Phase I portion of vapor control equipment (components housed underground) was higher than those in other districts. Violation rates at nonretail gasoline outlets, such as car rental agencies, was high at 50 percent due partly to the lack of presence by district field inspectors.

        Defect rates among Phase II bootless pump nozzles also were found to be high at 35 percent. ARB staff acknowledges, however, that this technology is new and emerging without available historical data. ARB staff also noted that district officials should field test this equipment to help reduce non-compliance rates. The ARB staff attributed the higher defect rate to more stringent rules used in the Bay Area than those found in some other districts.

        Perchloroethylene emissions from Bay Area dry cleaners were higher than those found in other districts (79 percent non-compliance with 67 percent actual violations), but ARB inspectors noted the high levels were caused, in part, by the district's stringent test procedures. ARB staff commented that district inspectors use more sophisticated detection equipment than some other districts. In addition, dry cleaners were the beneficiaries of an outreach and education program that was effective in cutting non-emission related violations.

        The district's legal staff typically settles cases in 78 days, which meets the 90 day criteria deemed to be effective by ARB. However, ARB staff found that average penalty fees were lower ($480 per violation) than similar fees assessed by some other districts. ARB recommends that penalties be increased to provide some sources with more incentive to comply with air quality regulations.

        The ARB staff also found that the district investigates every complaint it receives and responds to most complaints within 24 hours. On-site evaluations of complaints are conducted in almost all cases and include good documentation.

        In addition, ARB inspectors found the district's source test program to meet the state's criteria. The district conducts its own source tests using skilled investigators and proper equipment. About 75 percent of all source tests are conducted unannounced, as the ARB recommends. ARB inspectors also felt appropriate legal action for source test violations is taken by the district when it is needed. In those cases reviewed by ARB staff the average penalty levied was $945.

        "This review points out the strong program operated by the BAAQMD and reinforces its leadership position among California air quality agencies. It also provides the district with the feedback it needs to further strengthen its program, an oversight responsibility of the ARB's," Dunlap added.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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