(EnviroNews Utah) – Although Utah’s infamous “RED AIR DAY” warning signs have been mysteriously out of commission through one of the most hazardous air pollution streaks in modern history, Utah’s citizens are no strangers to what is asked of them when the pollution get’s bad. Everyone knows that they are supposed to do their best to drive less, take public transit, walk and bike (even though it’s a health hazard to do so), and reduce their driving speeds. But apparently, local corporations flying high under Citizens United and other legislation, and who are now considered to be no less than people and citizens themselves, care to observe no such reductions or sacrifices.
These film clips were captured by EnviroNews Utah and demonstrate the hard reality in a story that we hear over and over again coming from the local residents in South Davis County — that story is one of oil refineries that start “pumping and dumping” as soon as the EPA and local environmental agencies close their doors at 5 PM. Many longtime resident of this area will tell you that in the day, the smell on “Refinery Row” might be tolerable, but at night, out comes the legendary sulfuric, rotten egg soup smell. This is not a rare occurrence, but happens nearly every night and is easily detectable by people commuting on the I-15 Freeway.
This particular episode happened around midnight, and according to the EnviroNews journalist who filmed it, lasted for about 2 hours. By morning time, there had been PM 2.5 spikes detected in the valley that had hit numbers as high as 110, which is over three times what is considered to be a hazardous to human health. According to local residents, and astute observers, these bypasses or “burn-offs” as they are sometimes called, happen much more frequently at night and contribute to the nearly unbearable smell that starts ramping up around evening time.
So if Utah’s citizens are asked to slow down and change their habits when pollutants are being dangerously trapped in the air shed by uncontrollable temperature inversions, why shouldn’t corporate “citizens” be asked to do the same? Earlier on this same day, Holly Refinery, who has recently applied for a pollution permit increase, was also observed dumping vast amounts of thick black smoke into the airshed. It should be noted that although the signs on the property do indicate the land to be owned by the adjacent Chevron refinery, it is believed that the stack in question belongs to Tesoro. It should also be noted that Tesoro is now being sued by the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) for it’s recently approved expansion permit.