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Friday, April 3, 2009

Gas station owners rebel against pollution rules

Gas station protest
Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
San Bernardino gas station operator James Hosmanek balks at having to comply with a California requirement to install costly nozzles and hoses to capture fumes.

By Margot Roosevelt

James Hosmanek, an ex-Marine, has operated his San Bernardino Chevron station for 21 years, patiently installing equipment to control gasoline emissions, even as the region's air grew smoggier.

Now he says he can't, and won't, obey the latest mandate: a state order to buy sophisticated nozzles and hoses to capture more of the vapors that cause respiratory disease and cancer. "It may be necessary to protect public health," he says. "But it's unaffordable."

Today is the deadline for California's 11,000 gasoline stations to comply with the nation's most stringent controls on the fumes that seep from refueling cars. And Hosmanek is among the estimated one of five station owners who have joined an open rebellion against air pollution authorities.

Last week, spurred by a high-decibel campaign by gasoline trade associations, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on the Legislature to delay enforcement by a year.

"Improving California's air is of the utmost importance," he wrote legislators. But "enforcement flexibility is an absolute necessity to ensure against the job and financial losses that could come from stations being shut down or fined for non-compliance."

If the Legislature agrees, it would be the second time in the last two months that business interests have succeeded in rolling back a major pollution regulation. In February, a measure was added to the state's budget package allowing construction firms to delay retrofitting diesel bulldozers and other equipment.

Ten public health and environmental groups have vowed to fight the vapor rule rollback.

"We are extremely disappointed with the governor's action," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen of the American Lung Assn. "California must not bend to pressure from a small group of gasoline station owners who are using the current economic situation as an excuse."

A campaign against the measure in recent weeks was laced with misleading information, according to officials with the California Air Resources Board. One alert mailed by the Responsible Clean Air Coalition, a group led by a former John McCain campaign staffer, Tom Kise, charged that, "On April 1st, more than 6,000 gas stations statewide are going to shut their doors because of zealous Sacramento bureaucrats."

But in a letter to legislative leaders Friday, local air pollution districts charged with enforcing the rule said, "Air districts do not intend to shut down any stations on April 1." Station owners have known about the deadline for four years, the letter said.

Owners who have applied for permits and made arrangements to install equipment will not be cited, the letter said. Some fines will be levied, but, "only the most recalcitrant operators who absolutely refuse to comply could be subject to significant penalties."

That reassurance does not comfort Hosmanek. Battered by competition from cheaper chains such as Thrifty and Arco, the 51-year-old businessman said he was refused credit by banks and equipment lenders. Refitting his eight nozzles and hoses would cost more than $60,000, he said. "Even if I could get the funding, I couldn't make the payments."

With fewer customers, Hosmanek has laid off eight of his 18 employees. Down the road, he said, a Shell station began installing the equipment Friday.

"I asked the guy how he did it, and he said he put it all on credit cards," Hosmanek said. "That's financial suicide."

Single-station owners like Hosmanek aren't the only ones hurting. David Berri, an Irvine businessman whose family owns 22 stations in Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties, said he put a 25% deposit on vapor equipment last year. But his bank has since canceled his credit line. His family has put seven stations up for sale, but so far, there are no buyers.

"The economy snuck up on us," he said. "If I complied, I'm at the point this could bankrupt me, and I have a family to take care of."

State officials say they have little choice when it comes to imposing pollution rules. Federal law requires states to clean their air. The rule, they note, would prevent 10 tons a day of vapor emissions.

"That's a big deal in a state where nearly three-quarters of our residents breathe air that still fails to meet federal health standards for ozone," said the air board's Tom Cackette.

Board officials also note that letting laggard station owners off the hook would be unfair to the three-quarters of stations that have ordered equipment. Fewer than 5% of pumps, many of them in carwashes, convenience stores or car dealers, have indicated that they would voluntarily shut down, officials said.

In the Legislature, Assemblyman Martin Garrick (R-Solana Beach) and Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) are leading the charge to delay enforcement. On Monday, Cox called for the resignation of state Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols for being "recalcitrant" in refusing Schwarzenegger's request for a delay.

But a compromise may be in the works. A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City) would provide $8 million in grants to stations for the equipment.

That could help owners like Hosmanek, who shows no sign of backing down.

"I'm not going to shut down," he said, despite facing what he contends could be thousands of dollars in fines. "I'm going to stand up and fight."

Original here

2 comments:

paul Klee said...

Gasoline, Petroleum and the plastics made from it are the single largest cause of cancer in the world. This is a known fact, verified by thousands of studies which the oil industry counters by paying pundits to say: "Well, we just are not sure yet". Now are are sure. The TPH array in petroleum and petroleum products exists as microscopic particles which leach off of plastic materials, (ie: the plastic in water and baby bottles) and float in the air as vapor, (ie: the fumes around gas stations). These particles are absorbed into the body and broken down to a cellular level and then to a DNA level. As the DNA replicates, a constant process, these TPH materials cause the replication process to make mistakes and create genetic mutations. TPH is a very particular array of items so the "mistakes" that it causes occur as the same thing over and over. We call this repeating mistake: "cancer". Other materials in our environment cause other kinds of genetic mutations that do not manifest as onerous, or extremely negative, or obvious things. TPH manifests cancer.

The TPH chemical array has killed more Americans than every terrorist since the beginning of time.

The petrochemical bisphenol-a, or BPA, causes precancerous tumors and urinary tract problems and made babies reach puberty early.

Every gas pump has a label on it that oil and gas causes cancer and a host of lethal medical problems.

Archeologicial digs show that ancient peoples living near tar pits got cancer.

When there is an oil spill, you are not allowed on the beach because most agencies classify oil as toxic.


A study of childhook leukemia in England mapped every child with the diserase and found they all occurred in a circle, in the center of which was a gas station.
Living near a petrol station could quadruple the risk of childhood leukaemia, research suggested today.
The study in France found a link between cases of acute leukaemia among youngsters and how close they lived to a fuel station or a repair garage.
Research has already shown an association between adults' occupational exposure to benzene, a hydrocarbon derived from petrol, and leukaemia.
The latest study is published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The French Institute of Health and Medical Research based their findings on 280 cases of childhood leukaemia and a comparison group of 285 children.
They were drawn from four hospitals in Nancy, Lille, Lyon and Paris, with almost two-thirds of the children with leukaemia aged between two and six.
The team found no clear link between the mother's occupation during pregnancy or traffic levels around where they lived and the risk of child leukaemia.
They also saw no link between leukaemia and living near manufacturers using materials such as aluminium or plastic.
But a child whose home was near a garage was four times more likely to develop leukaemia than a child whose home was not.
The risk appeared to be even greater for acute nonlymphoblastic leukaemia, which was seven times more common among children living close to a petrol station or garage. The longer a child had lived there, the higher their risk of leukaemia appeared to be.
There are 6,600 cases of leukaemia a year in Britain. Although it is the most common form of childhood cancer, it affects three times as many adults as children.
The authors admit the findings could be due to chance. "But the strength of the association and the duration of the trend are arguments for a causal association."


Alberta’s oil sands are one of the world’s biggest deposits of oil, but the cost of extracting that oil may be the health of the people living around them. High levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens have been found in the water, soil, and fish downstream of the oil sands. The local health authority of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta comissioned the study in response to locals’ claims that the oil extraction projects upstream were damaging the health of citizens. Petrochemicals and their byproducts, such as dioxin, are known to cause an array of serious health problems, including cancers and endocrine disruption.Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) is a term used to describe a large family of several hundred chemical compounds that originally come from crude oil. Crude oil is used to make petroleum products, which can contaminate the environment. Because there are so many different chemicals in crude oil and in other petroleum products, it is not practical to measure each one separately. However, it is useful to measure the total amount of TPH at a site.TPH is a mixture of chemicals, but they are all made mainly from hydrogen and carbon, called hydrocarbons. Scientists divide TPH into groups of petroleum hydrocarbons that act alike in soil or water. These groups are called petroleum hydrocarbon fractions. Each fraction contains many individual chemicals.

Some chemicals that may be found in TPH are hexane, jet fuels, mineral oils, benzene, toluene, xylenes, naphthalene, and fluorene, as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components. However, it is likely that samples of TPH will contain only some, or a mixture, of these chemicals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that one TPH compound (benzene) is carcinogenic to humans. IARC has determined that other TPH compounds (benzo[a]pyrene and gasoline) are carcinogenic to humans.

Benzene causes leukemia. Benzene as a cause of leukemia had documented since 1928 (1 p. 7-9). In 1948, the American Petroleum Institute officially reported a link between this solvent used in many of their industries used and cases of leukemia in their workers. Their findings concluded that the only safe level of benzene exposure is no exposure at all (2).

The largest breast cancer incidents are in Marin County, California which is tied to the air, water and ecosphere of the Chevron Oil refinery right next door.

The oil industries spend tens of millions of dollars on fake pundits and disinformation to make sure the above information is never known by the public. Cure Cancer: Stop oil. It is a national security need in more ways than one.

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