Those of you walking on Beechurst day to day, you should be aware that your life is at risk. Not by drunk students. Not by burning couches. Not by parking. But, by the toxic fumes emitted by all the vehicles stuck in traffic and old coal-powered plants.
Current traffic in Morgantown @ 11:30 a.m.
City officials have recognized that Morgantown’s air pollution is close to failing air quality standards regulated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Consequently, the city of Morgantown is at risk of losing federal funding. Without federal funding, Morgantown will be unable to design, develop and execute a plan to meet air quality standards or maintain its roads. Mountaineer News Service interviewed Jeff Mikorski, Morgantown’s interim City Manager, regarding the issue.
“If [non-attainment] happens, the EPA says we can’t use any federal money for anything other than cleaning up air quality,” said Mikorski.
Morgantown is exposed to three pollutants:
1) Sulfur dioxide: Morgantown’s main air pollutant, which results from burning coal and crude oil in coal-powered plants. Congested vehicles within the city, also, add more to the problem.
2) Particulate matter: a wide range of pollutants — dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, wood smoke and sulfate aerosols — which are suspended as tiny particles in the air. These particulates irritate and damage human lungs. They come from vehicle exhausts and the burning of coal
3) ground level ozone: (smog) created by chemical reactions from fumes released by cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Ozone levels trigger on hot, sunny days, but are also worse on cold, snowy days.
“Studies show that all of these pollutants can cause asthma attacks, lung disease and exacerbate heart conditions.” -Mountaineer News Service
So what can we do?
1) Address Morgantown’s traffic problem
2) Improving WVU’s public transportation systems (the PRT and Mountainline buses)
3) Limiting the number of commercial vehicles driving through the city
4) Destroy the obsolete coal-powered plant along the Mon River, which is not compliant with EPA regulations anyway
Coal fired power plant in Maidsville, WV emits toxic fumes from its smoke stacks.
Photo credit: Mountaineer News Service
West Virginia is wild…but not so wonderful. Morgantown desperately needs a combined effort from students, residents, the university and the city.