EPA, Borough working on plan to address serious air quality issues

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a plan to address "moderate" violations of federal air pollution law in the Fairbanks area.

However, the EPA in June reclassified the area from 'moderate' to 'serious' non-attainment, and a plan to address serious violations will be the next step.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough in winter regularly exceeds limits for fine particulate, which is a mix of solid particles and liquid droplets that can be inhaled deep in the lungs.

Fine particulate can cause premature death in people suffering heart and lung diseases.

A major source of particulate is wood-burning stoves.
Local, state and federal authorities have acknowledged that the plan for moderate violations will not solve Fairbanks pollution problems.

Officials have until the end of the year to create a more stringent cleanup plan.

Borough Mayor Karl Kassel says the acceptance of a moderate attainment plan bodes well for the ability to craft one that will address the area's new "serious" designation.

"So the EPA wasn't totally satisfied with our moderate plan, but they said let's focus our efforts and not waste time on a historical perspective. We know we're serious now, let's work on a serious plan.
So we're very appreciative of that, because we would have had to dedicate time and the state of Alaska would have had to have dedicated a lot of time to working on the old plan, and then just put it on the shelf once we were done and immediately gone to work on a serious plan. So this way we save ourselves the frustration and the time and money that would have been spent on that."