Maryland Department of the Environment and Delmarva Poultry Industry Partner for New Air Quality Project
By Maggie Cummings
On Thursday, April 25th, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI), and the Campbell Foundation held an informational meeting at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne on a new effort to gather air quality data — the Lower Eastern Shore Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Project. According to the MDE press release they “will sample the air from newly installed monitoring stations on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore in answer to ongoing questions regarding the potential effects of large poultry houses on air quality.” The purpose of the meeting was to review the details of the project with the public, explain the Department’s specifications for the site selection, and provide an opportunity for the public to offer suggestions for the location of the new monitoring stations.
The Campbell Foundation and DPI have agreed to provide financial support for the project, contributing over $500,000. With their large financial stake, each has a major role in the implementation of monitoring. The Campbell Foundation will fund the installation of the two new monitoring sites, including electrical power and security fencing. DPI, according to the Memorandum of Understanding, will purchase air sample devices for the two existing air monitoring stations, located in Dorchester County and Baltimore City. DPI will also “assist the Department in efforts to locate and secure a suitable site for the two new air monitoring shelters.”
Panelists at the informational meeting included Samantha Campbell, President of the Campbell Foundation, Holly Porter, Executive Director, DPI, and Angelo Bianca, Deputy Director, Air and Radiation Administration, MDE. A variety of other MDE employees, elected officials, community members, growers, and environmental non-profits were also in attendance.
Community members raised concerns about DPI’s financing of any part of the monitoring project and how that might affect the integrity of the data and its reporting. Porter tried to assure the audience that DPI is only providing the funds to retrofit two existing air-monitoring stations to collect data on ammonia. In addition, community members expressed concerns about transparency from MDE and the entire partnership. The audience was again assured that all of the data is property of MDE and therefore public.
For a variety of reasons, the meeting ultimately pitted growers against community members and environmentalists, a frustratingly consistent pattern on the Eastern Shore. There was an effort made to reconcile differences by a number of audience members. Nevertheless, a few apologies did not heal the divide between the groups. It remains to be seen if the project will have any impact on air quality for the citizens of Eastern Shore.
The project is set to start August 1st, 2019 and intended to last one year. MDE will continue to operate the two existing monitoring stations in Dorchester County and Baltimore City. However, the operation of the two monitoring stations located on the Lower Eastern Shore, will be contracted out to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Department of Natural Sciences. Though the Campbell Foundation and DPI will be funding the monitoring sites, the data will be property of MDE for summary in a final report. Following the conclusion of the project, MDE will prepare a final report summarizing the data collected from all four stations and comparing the data gathered at the Lower Eastern Shore stations that collected from the Dorchester County and Baltimore City stations. At the moment, the partnership is not seeking further analysis or conclusions.
If you would like to provide a comment you can do so by emailing [email protected] or by letter addressed to:
Angelo Bianca, Deputy Director
Air and Radiation Administration
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
To keep up to date on this project, follow this link to the MDE website.
Look for our next installment of this series in the coming weeks here (link). We will explore the partnership, the effects of the current process, and more in additional posts.