A society of clean air…
The biannual (that’s every two years, I checked!) CASANZ conference was held in September 2013. ‘Climate change’ was the general theme of this year’s conference. The conference was very well attended with rapid knowledge sharing through a wide range of presentations and discussion sessions. Topics of discussion included the mounting evidence of the adverse health effects of particulate emissions and the use of risk assessment in air pollution studies.
A clever ‘whey’ to solve a particulate problem?
There was a particularly interesting case study illustrating a multi-faceted and innovative approach to resolving PM10 licence exceedances at a dairy product processing facility. PM10 exceedances were initially reduced through the modification of plant equipment to match operational requirements, but not enough to consistently meet licence conditions. The fitting of further control technology was costly. An alternative approach involved a human health risk assessment of the dairy powder particulate.
Due to the nature of the particulate, the study determined that the PM10 licence condition may not be relevant. This led to successful renegotiation of the licence condition, eliminating the need for retrofitting of pollution control technology, a great outcome.
Climate Change On The Fly
Airport GHG emissions
I had the opportunity to present an article illustrating the challenges of compiling a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory for a planned airport expansion. GHG emissions from the aviation sector are expected to grow rapidly based on demand. Significant mitigation of GHG emissions from this sector can only be achieved through a collaborative approach. The proponent for the airport expansion project took a proactive approach that also required the GHG emission inventory to include embodied emissions in construction materials and emissions from forecast aviation activities.
Similar to other EIS GHG assessments, the basis of this assessment involved a bit of detective work and relied on skilfully combining information and datasets from a range of disciplines across the EIS process. The result was a robust assessment that clearly highlighted the influence of project phase as well as ongoing operational activities on the GHG emissions relating to the development.
Simulating tropical meteorology
Katestone Air Quality consultant, Tania Haigh, made her debut presentation at CASANZ this year. Tania presented preliminary findings of a Katestone modelling team study that investigates the generation of meteorological data for air dispersion models in a tropical environment using TAPM and WRF.
Meteorological models are often used where site-specific observational data is not available. The WRF model is more complex to set up, but more flexible than TAPM. In the study neither model consistently performed ‘better’ than the other. This emphasised that choosing the ‘best’ model requires a good understanding of the meteorological features that will be important for the dispersion of pollutants for a particular industry and location.
Case Study: Tomago Aluminium Smelter
TAC came to Katestone with a problem: measured exceedances of the sulfur dioxide air quality standard at its ambient monitoring station. This was an intriguing problem for two reasons:
1. There were exceedances of the 24 hour standard, but no exceedances of the 1 hour standard
2. Recent modelling did not identify potential exceedances
Katestone embarked on a study to investigate the likely source of the problem working closely with TAC.
Detailed analysis of the monitoring data, an emissions monitoring campaign, use of a range of models, wind tunnel modelling and a risk assessment were conducted. Each of these elements assisted to better understand the nature of the issue and the circumstances that caused the exceedances.
The study provided TAC with a path forward to work with the regulators and manage the risk.