A round of air quality testing near the Lane Mt. Silica plant in Valley will take as long as 18 months to see if the plant is discharging pollution into the air of the nearby Valley School, according to officials. At an open house event on June 29, representatives from the Washington State Department of Health and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) were on hand to answer questions about the testing that is slated to begin in August.
The meeting was sparsely attended by the public, with less than 10 people attending. The testing, which will be conducted by ATSDR, will utilize several stationary air quality monitoring devices that will be checked daily by ATSDR staff. At the end of the testing period, which could run from 12 to 18 months, the agency will issue a report that will make recommendations based on the data. ATSDR Senior Environmental Health scientist Debra Gavle said the testing is designed to be objective.
“We are totally objective. We don’t want to cost jobs to this community,” she said. “We are just here to give the information to the community so they can make a decision.”
Gavle said her team hopes to collect data nearby the silica plant but also within a one mile radius. This means she will have to work with private landowners who are willing to have a monitoring device placed on their property.
“All of the information about where the devices are located will be confidential, both during the testing phase and in the final report,” Gavle said.
Due to the long testing period, Gavle said the best way for the community to stay informed is to visit a dedicated website developed by the state Department of Health. The website address is www.doh.wa.gov/valleyschool.
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff