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Issues with air quality swirl near incinerator

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The third ambient air quality exceedance in the vicinity of the Durham York Energy Centre in the past 12 months has been revealed by the region.

On May 2, an air quality measurement at the Rundle Road monitoring station exceeded the province’s 24-hour ambient air quality standards by 70 per cent.

The region was notified of the incident by consultant Stantec on May 28.

Measurements at the region’s other two ambient air quality monitoring stations on that day were below legislated standards.

Stantec investigated the exceedance, reporting no findings of equipment malfunction or errors with laboratory analysis.

There were also no air quality alerts issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) that day, and the DYEC was not upwind of the Rundle Road monitoring station.

Stantec ultimately attributed heavy traffic and idling in the area as the likely cause, also concluding the exceedance posed a “negligible risk” to human health.

The consultant’s findings mirror those of a similar exceedance in November 2017.

The first exceedance at the Rundle Road Station on June 12, 2017, was attributed to nearby construction on the future Highway 418.

Each time an ambient air quality exceedance occurs, Durham Region is required to report to the MOECC and the public.

This past April, Gio Anello, manager of waste planning and technical services for Durham Region, told The Oshawa Express that changes to provincial standards will likely lead to an increased number of exceedances, and ultimately, higher costs for the municipality.

“It will require more staff time and it will also come to a point where consultants will say they will have to increase their prices,” he notes.

However, he claims tests have shown the DYEC is not a “major contributor” to the ambient air exceedances.

To him, the obligation should be on the province to investigate these incidents, an opinion that is not unknown to the ministry.

“The ministry has considered this, they acknowledge it is really their responsibility to undertake these investigations,” Anello said in April.

Following the latest exceedance, Anello says there has not been much new discussion on the issue with the ministry.