17 Tons from F-35s

Business Insider 7/3/2014

The US Air Force recently released its final study to add at least two squadrons of F-35As to Eielson Air Force Base (FDNM 2/27/2016). The decision, to base the jets at Eielson, was reached by ignoring its air pollution impact on the severely polluted PM2.5 nonattainment area.

According to the study, increased air operations at Eielson will add 17 tons of PM2.5 per year to the nonattainment area (F-35 Operational Beddown EIS, p 4-38). However, because the increased contribution is less than 100 tons, under EPA rules it is de minimis, and does not trigger a conformity determination or cause a significant impact. 17 tons is a vast underestimate because increased air pollution from housing additional service members and construction workers in the nonattainment area were not considered.

Air Force Times 10/26/2015

Beset by technical problems, the F-35A Lightning II by Lockheed Martin is the most complex and most expensive weapons system in history. The F-35 has over 24 million lines of code, more than any other US or allied jet in history. A single F-35A costs $148 million, making the cost of 48 F-35As (24 per squadron) $7.1 billion.

A pilot’s helmet, with a host of flaws such as jitter and poor night vision, costs $400,000.

Russia Insider 1/30/2016

The cost of the F-35 program is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes and, to maintain and operate over its lifetime, will cost nearly $1 trillion. (Current estimates are $1.2 trillion.) Senator John McCain said the F-35 program has been “both a scandal and a tragedy.”

Big money attracts supporters. Overlooking concerns about cost and operational malfunctions, the Alaska Delegation announced the Eielson F-35s will trigger an “economic boom for Interior Alaska” (Press Release 2/26/16).

Even Democratic presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders who campaigns on voting against the Iraq war, nonetheless supported the F-35 and succeeded in basing 18 F-35 jets at the city airport in Burlington, VT.

The Daily Beast 2/8/2016

Fairbanks has the highest PM2.5 concentrations in the nation, measured by the 24-hour design value from 2012-2014 (PM2.5 Design Values, EPA 8/19/2015, Table 5, 31-Z). By June 2016, EPA will designate the nonattainment area as “serious” which will initiate a requirement for best available control measures” to reduce PM2.5. Adding new sources, no matter how popular, worsens the harm to health.

But, when the Air Force brings in its stable of high-dollar war machines, they’ll operate above and outside “best available” air pollution controls. The Air Force will contribute to their host community’s severe air pollution, requiring more stringent controls on non-exempt emitters. So, there you have it: When it’s about Fairbanks’ air quality, count on the most expensive weapons system in world history being just de minimis.

[Click on image to open article source.]

What you don’t know about Fairbanks’ air can hurt you.

When calling air alerts, the Borough considers only hourly PM2.5 measured at two monitors: the NCore at the FNSB Administration Building in downtown Fairbanks and the North Pole Fire Station on Hurst Road. Fairbanks monitors showing higher PM2.5 than downtown Fairbanks are ignored, then removed. In fact, every other PM2.5 monitor is ignored, regardless how high it reads.

When reporting air pollution to the public, FNSB and ADEC must stop cherry-picking monitor data to ignore neighborhoods with high PM2.5.

How can you speak up? Write an email:

  • Air agencies must stop ignoring Fairbanks monitors that have higher readings than the NCore monitor in downtown Fairbanks.
  • The Borough must stop removing monitors from Fairbanks and North Pole neighborhoods that show high PM2.5.
  • Tell them how air pollution has harmed you.

Send your email to:
FNSB Assembly assembly@co.fairbanks.ak.us
Mayor Karl Kassel mayor@fnsb.us
Kathleen Hook – APCC Chair khook@doyonutilities.com
Governor Bill Walker bill.walker@alaska.gov
Commissioner Larry Hartig – DEC larry.hartig@alaska.gov
Commissioner Valerie Davidson – DHSS davidson@alaska.gov
Commissioner Gary Folger – DPS gary.folger@alaska.gov
Administrator Dennis McLerran r10administrator-mclerran@epa.gov
Please send a copy to cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com

How does of ignoring monitors harm health in Fairbanks?

The NP Fire Station PM2.5 monitor frequently records levels categorized by EPA as “Unhealthy,” triggering numerous Stage 2 and Stage 3 burning requirements. From Jan 1 to Feb 11, 2016 for North Pole, agencies declared seven Stage 2 and eleven Stage 3 air alerts. When people know the air is polluted, they have a chance to take action.

During the same period for Fairbanks, agencies declared five Stage 2 and no Stage 3 air alerts. The NCore monitor at the Borough Admin Building in downtown Fairbanks uncommonly records elevated PM2.5 (mainly when North Pole Coffee Roasting Co discharges its putrid plume). Alerts are based on 24-hour averages, hiding higher hourly emission spikes.

What monitors should have been considered?

The Chena Pump monitor has recorded PM2.5 categorized as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” Monitors at Hamilton Acres and the Watershed School recorded Unhealthy but were removed by the Borough. The Dixon Road, North Pole monitor recorded PM2.5 higher than the NP Fire Station but was removed by the Borough.

How is my health harmed when monitors showing higher PM2.5 are ignored? 

When people don’t know their air is polluted, they have no chance to take change their behavior. When no Air Alert has been declared, residents don’t know schools and playgrounds may be unsafe or that breathing is life endangering. Athletic training and competitions are held not knowing high PM2.5 readings were ignored. Residents on the ridges or from out of town don’t know when the air is unsafe or when they need to stay away from Fairbanks. Solid fuel users keep burning because they don’t know health-based PM2.5 limits were exceeded.

Which agency ignores monitors?

Both. Borough Air Quality Forecast and ADEC Air Quality Advisories/ Episodes websites reflect data from only two monitors in the borough.

What are Stage 2 and Stage 3 heating device restrictions?

Stage 2: “Burning is permitted in all EPA-certified solid fuel burning appliances, and EPA Phase II qualified hydronic heaters with an annual average emission rating of 2.5 grams or less, masonry heaters, pellet fuel burning appliances, cook stoves, and fireplaces. No fuel source may be added to the combustions [sic] chamber or firebox of any solid fuel burning appliance or waste oil burning appliance not listed above.” Detailed description.

Stage 3: “No fuel source may be added to the combustions [sic] chamber or firebox of any solid fuel burning appliances, masonry heaters, pellet fuel burning appliances, cook stoves, fireplaces, or waste oil burning appliances.” Detailed description.

Are the agencies following the law?

No. A Stage 2 air alert is “implemented when concentrations exceed or are forecasted to exceed 35 µg/m3” and a Stage 3 air alert is “implemented when concentrations exceed or are forecasted to exceed 55 µg/m3” (FNSB Code 8.21.040 E).

When monitors show 24-hr concentrations over 30 µg/m3, 20% opacity limits, “shall be initiated at a 24-hour average concentration of 30 μg/m3 based on a 24-hr rolling average of the 1-hr BAM measurements” (SIP III.D.5.11-6). “BAM” monitors are the Borough’s real-time, hourly monitors. 20% opacity limits have never been publicized when 24-hr concentrations exceeded 30 µg/m3. (FNSB NOASH waivers do not apply to state opacity limits.)

Further, ADEC and FNSB “will declare” a PM-2.5 air quality advisory “if, in its judgment,” conditions exist that “might threaten public health” 18 AAC 50.246(b). PM2.5 threatens heath when 24-hr levels exceed 35.5 µg/m3, the Air Alert level set in the Alaska State Implementation Plan (SIP III.D.5.11-4).

It is not “judgment,” but bias, to call air alerts for North Pole while ignoring monitors with high PM2.5 in Fairbanks.

Which agency is at fault?

Both. The state delegated responsibility on area sources to the Borough (ADEC-FNSB MOU for Air Pollution Control 2010). Yet, both must follow the laws and regulations. The Clean Air Act “states that the SIP must provide necessary assurances that, where the State has relied on a local government for the implementation of any plan provision, the State has responsibility for ensuring adequate implementation of such plan provisions” (SIP III.D.5.12-1).


Recent FNSB releases of public records disclose 1,034 complaints since 2008.

Cruel air pollution this winter:

COAL: “Someone in our neighborhood is burning coal I believe, it’s a horrible smell coming into our home causing everyone to have headaches. I also have premature twin infants and do not want this to affect their health. We have air purifiers going in our house but the smell is very strong. Thank you.”

COFFEE: “This company has piped burnt coffee pollution in the air for over 2 years. The burning particulates get in your eyes and lungs. My 75 year old mother is constantly sick from the odor. She has lived in her home for 57 years and has respiratory illness from it. The pollution is so prevalent that you can breathe it up to 6 or 7 miles from the company. Many families complain to the state and the borough to no avail. The owners live far from their burning odors and are not responsive to the calls complaining about this pollution. It is not just an odor it is making my mother sick. Please respond. When the weather is very cold the inversion layer keeps the pollution locked in the greater Fairbanks City area. Please respond. Thank You.”[Previous to filing this complaint, complainant had contacted the state and was advised by ADEC to complain to FNSB. When complainant did so, FNSB “assigned” case to ADEC, saying “Odor violates State Regulation 18 AAC 50.110.” Is it air pollution or a hot potato?]

WOOD BOILER: “This outdoor hydronic heater is used to heat the greenhouse where the owner grows flowers for sale. He told me 2 years ago that his neighbor has complained to him but nobody else. He is some 500 feet from Ticasuk Brown School. I took this photo yesterday as I drove around my neighborhood looking for contributors to my terrible air quality. The smell from his burner took my breath away.”[FNSB measured 2,126 µg/m3, highest ever recorded.]

TRASH: “Neighbor burns trash every Tuesday between 3-6pm, has been going on all summer but now trying to shovel and has asthma and smoke has become unbearable. Not sure which neighbor.”

COAL AND WOOD: “I was right at the corner of the Steese Hywy South of Curry’s Corner and the Post Office. My eyes burned, by skin was irritated and I had some labored breathing after being down there. I wear a mask to pick up my mail now. I know it’s not healthy to be down there and the postal employees should be interviewed because they have made serious comments. I don’t feel comfortable commenting for them but someone should ask them.”

VEGETABLE OIL: “This has been an ongoing issue, the fumes are noxious and potentially dangerous.It smells like chemicals, or wires burning…. Sometimes accompanied by dark smoke coming out of a pipe protruding from the front of the “shop.” Can you please look into this issue?”

COFFEE: “Putrid, disgusting odor of burnt rubber or other material having been cooked to the point of being scorched being pervasive in the windless, downtown area this morning when I was there in and out of my vehicle, between 8:30 am and 10:30 am in the area of Gaffney Rd. and as I was going toward the downtown post office and then along the Chena River on First Avenue toward the Carlson Center….”

UNKNOWN: “We are regularly, subjected to a very strong odor of burning material, I think it is coal smoke. The odor is so strong that it is present inside our office building when all doors and windows are closed. It causes irritation of the nose and eyes.”

WOOD BOILER: “There is an outdoor boiler located behind this residence. It is can be accessed off of Skyline. It is the first driveway on the left after the Skyline/Summit Intersection. The property owner has been harvesting green wood from the front of his property. When the outdoor boiler is fired the smell and smoke covers the neighborhood. He does not seem to run it consistently, but when it is burning the pollution levels are high. We moved specifically into this area of town to avoid the air pollution problems of the valley. This boiler has been installed since our move 5 years ago. We have great health and welfare concerns. This area has an extensive network of trails and is an area used by runners, bikers, and skiers. Last week we were on an early morning walk and the smoke was so thick and dense that we could hardly breathe. This boiler has introduced a hazard to the health and well being of all the residents in the entire area. We would appreciate your investigation into this situation and your advice on what recourse we have as concerned neighbors. You will note that I did not put an event end, as it is ongoing whenever the boiler is fired.”

WOOD BOILER: “In order to make this air quality complaint actually go through I just filled in the start date and time [ongoing pollution]. The people being affected are in the Volunteer Fire Fighter Residence behind the Fox Transfer Site. The smoke has been bad, sometimes it’s worse than other times. I am a young person who has started to have cardiac symptoms. An EKG suggested that I was experiencing repolarization of my heart conductivity. That is a bad thing to be happening and not what should happen to a young, otherwise healthy person. I have had a work smoke exposure the summer of 2015 and now have been living in this smoke during the winter of 2015-16. I will try to find another place to live. Please investigate this area. We will also attempt to find help monitoring.”

COAL: “The house 2 doors down to the right of me has excessive coal smoke blowing thru our front yard causing headaches and nausea whenever I open the front door. I have a young son who cannot play outside.”

Ongoing, “putrid” air pollution:

FNSB air quality complaint records undercount concerns about air pollution. Many complaints are for air pollution that has gone on for years. Complainants may have given up due to lack of agency response. Individuals may be injured by air pollution, yet never file a complaint.

In 2015, FNSB terminated its online complaint form, diverting all complaints to ADEC’s statewide air quality complaint webform: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Complaints

Some complainants identified the air pollution source by address; many do not or cannot. Complainants described conditions that make source identification difficult: darkness, infiltration into homes, workplaces, or schools, and all-pervasive ambient air conditions.

Complainants were often referred to ADEC, that with one exception (Alaska v. Straughn) has taken no enforcement action. Many received no follow-up communication. ADEC passed a problem burner to FNSB who “assigned” it back to ADEC like a hot potato. Complaints have been assumed to be “personal” conflicts until multiple individuals complained about a single source address.

Complainants frequently were about smoke from wood stoves, hydronic heaters (boilers), and coal. Complaints were about North Pole Coffee Roasting Co. (1502 Minnie St, Fairbanks), Justa Store (446 Old Chena Pump Rd, Fairbanks), and Labrenz Landscaping Inc. (2759 College Rd, Fairbanks).

Complaints were from inside the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area and outside, including Moose Creek (a mile outside nonattainment boundary), Harding Lake area, and Chena Hot Springs Road corridor.

Complaints occurred at all times of year, not only in winter months.

Has FNSB issued its first air quality fine?

CAF will post the address when confirmation is received.

Map to Kellum Street near Raven Landing: https://goo.gl/maps/5nYYr3XfFF12
Fine may be $100 (violation of visible emissions standard, 1st offense) or $500 (emissions crossing property lines, 1st offense) depending on section of code was violated.

Fri, 02/05/2016 – 20:10 –mfussell NewsCenter 11

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is issuing its first citation for an air quality violation, nearly a year after a program to monitor pollution was put in place.

“It either just happened recently, or it will happen first thing tomorrow morning,” Jim Williams, the Chief of Staff for FNSB Mayor Karl Kassel, said at a Borough Assembly meeting Thursday.

Williams said the Kassel Administration reached out to the Kellum Street individual being cited at least ten times since October.

He adds Mayor Karl Kassel wanted to be the first to make the call to take action.

“[Kassel] will continue to make the decision on fines to make sure that property owner have every single opportunity to be heard,” Williams said. “That specific property owner didn’t want anything to do with the borough.”

Public Health Issue

What if we treated air pollution from burning (wood, coal, coffee, garbage) as a public health issue?

My Road, Moose Creek 1/27/2016 at 2 pm

My Road, Moose Creek 1/27/2016 at 2 pm [Click for link to a child’s asthma attack.]

Visit links below for monitor PM2.5 data. Two monitors now online.

NM-1 CCA Neighborhood Monitor T24951 – Hamilton Acres, Fairbanks, AK  Start Date: 12/21/2015, Lat, Long: 64.846884 -147.678081

CCA Hamilton Acres Neighb Monitor

NM-2 CCA Neighborhood Monitor T24954 Borough Admin Center, Fairbanks, AK  Start date: 2/25/2016 (was collocated with NM-1 from 2/9 to 2/25/2016)

Monitors operated by: Citizens for Clean Air
Equipment: Met One Neighborhood Monitor

Help Citizens for Clean Air move as fast to purchase and install monitors in hot zones, by supporting the CCA Monitoring Project – click button below:

Donate button image

To donate by mail, send check to:
CCA Monitoring Project
607 Old Steese Hwy Ste B PMB 118
Fairbanks, AK 99701-3163
Please note on your check “Monitoring Project.”

Citizens for Clean Air is raising money to purchase monitors to improve PM2.5 pollution monitoring and protect health and safety. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donors can give any amount. For more information, contact Patrice Lee: patricelee3294@gmail.com, 907-799-9580

Met One manufactures the BAM 1020, approved in 2008 as a Federal equivalent method by EPA. Thousands of BAM 1020 continuous PM2.5 monitors are in use, including at the US Embassy in Beijing and visible here: AQICN World. FNSB has five BAM 1020s online, see Real-Time Monitoring. The Met One Neighborhood Monitor is a new and inexpensive PM2.5 sensor that monitors PM2.5 at 15-minute increments and makes data available immediately on the “Cloud.”

Indiana homeowners can receive up to 100% funding to replace their old outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) with new solar, geothermal, or geothermal/solar combination systems, swapping out neighborhood scourges for zero-emission, renewable solutions.

The “It’s Doable, Go Renewable” program is overseen by the Hoosier Environmental Council, administered by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, and supported by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club.

There are around 8,000 Outdoor Wood Boilers throughout Indiana. When these devices are poorly constructed or operated, OWBs can make it very difficult for people to breathe who live downwind from them. We’re thrilled by a $500,000 grant opportunity that will allow for the replacement of the dirtiest soot-producing OWBs with clean, renewable energy. Everyone benefits here: the OWB owner gets a brand-new, clean source of energy. Neighbors no longer suffer from OWB smoke. And we help support Hoosier homegrown solar & geothermal entrepreneurs. — Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council

Factsheet: What’s The Deal With Outdoor Wood Boilers?

The program application period runs from October 14, 2015 to December 31, 2015. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Homeowners with an Indiana address.
  2. Currently operate an OWB to meet their home heating needs.
  3. Willing to replace their OWB with a zero-emission solar photovoltaic, geothermal, or combination system.

Please visit Citizens for Clean Air-No on Proposition 1 on Facebook:


Preliminary data from EPA shows Fairbanks, AK likely had the highest daily PM2.5 in the nation during 2012 to 2014.

On May 1, EPA will finalize sampling data for 2014. 2012 and 2013 have already been finalized. A three-year average is used to calculate nonattainment.

Fairbanks data from air pollution monitor sites, operated by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, are provided to the State of Alaska and submitted to EPA. A review of final and preliminary EPA data show that the three-year average of Fairbanks daily PM2.5 for 2012 to 2014 will be double that of Bakersfield, CA. EPA currently lists Bakersfield as having the highest daily PM2.5 for 2011 to 2013.

Table: 98th Percentile 24-hour PM2.5 2012-2014, preliminary

*EPA to finalize 2014 monitor data May 1, 2015.
Monitor Location, Site ID 2012 2013 2014* 3-year Average*
Hurst Rd, FNSB, 020900035 158.4 121.6 138 139
Bakersfield, Kern, 060290014 56.4 71.8 80 69

In fact, the astonishingly high monitor concentrations recorded at the Hurst Road residential neighborhood in 2012 and 2013 make it mathematically impossible for Bakersfield to hold on to its #1 ranking as worst 24-hour PM2.5 polluted community in the US. Bakersfield, get ready to move over for Fairbanks.

Data Sources:


Key question still being overlooked:

Would an ordinance weaker than state regulations (including the final SIP) risk termination of the local control program and state funding per AS 46.14.400, AS 46.14.410, and 18 AAC 50.015?

Instead of addressing this question, coverage in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is limited to reporting on opinions from three North Pole City Council members. North Pole leaders offer differing opinions on borough air quality plan 2/26/2015.

Link  to previous post: Assembly Proposal for Weak Controls Risks Termination of Local Control

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