Department of Environmental Conservation steps up as lead agency on Borough air quality

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Department of Environmental Conservation is now the lead agency on Borough air quality. The passing of Proposition 4 took away air quality control from the borough. Now, the Department of Environmental Conservation is stepping up as the lead agency.

Denise Koch explains what this means for the community.

"What's changed is that,DEC will now be the lead agency in monitoring the concentrations of air pollution in the air and then when that concentration reaches a particular level, or it is forecasted to reach a particular level, then we will call a Stage Alert, and we will also be the entity responsible for communicating those Stage Alerts, getting the word out there, doing the outreach and then doing compliance and enforcement when necessary," she said.

Koch says the DEC will honor Stage 1 and Stage 2 'No Other Adequate Source of Heat', or NOASH, waivers issued prior to October 25 and explains how it will work.

"We knew that initially there might be some confusion about where people can get their waivers and whether their waivers were still good or not. We wanted to ease that transition. So, if you had a Stage 1 waiver that was issued by the borough last winter, heating season or a NOASH waiver that was issued by the borough last winter season, those waivers will be in effect for this winter as well," she said.

There are also several new ways for residents to receive air quality alerts, and those alerts are issued when the air pollution levels are considered unsafe and a public health concern.

Alerts can be received by following @AlaskaDEC on Twitter, Burn Wise AK on Facebook or by visiting DEC.alaska.gov/fnsbair. You can also call 907-451-2132.