COMMERCE CITY, Colorado (CBS4) – Residents of the Town of Commerce who hope to keep a constant eye on the nearby Suncor Energy refinery will soon be able to use an air monitoring program run by a local nonprofit.
On Sunday, Cultivando, a Commerce City-based organization focused on improving the Latinx community, shared details of its upcoming air monitoring program with community members at EcoFiesta 2021. The event took place in Fairfax Park and organized by several local organizations, including Cultivando and 350 Colorado.
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“We’ve given them decades to clean up their act, and now it’s our opportunity to try and see what we can do,” said Olga González, executive director of Cultivando.
Last year, Suncor Energy reached a $ 9 million settlement agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2020 to resolve more than 100 air pollution violations. The settlement money will help fund the Cultivando program.
According to González, the group will use two monitors. One of these monitors will be fixed, while the other will be moved every two weeks.
The program is slated to launch in the fall and will include a bilingual website where community members can see what pollutants are in the air. Cultivando will also offer home monitors and plans to launch a video project where Commerce City residents can share their experiences.
“We want answers,” González said. “We hope to give dignity to their stories and demonstrate what really comes out of the refinery so that people can actually make informed decisions about their health. “
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Suncor is currently rolling out its own air monitoring program after seeking community input for months. The program will use ten monitors to detect common compounds associated with refinery emissions and display them in near real time on a publicly accessible online dashboard.
Third-party company Montrose Air Quality Services helped develop the program and will maintain it after the planned launch at the end of the summer.
“Suncor strongly supports air monitoring and welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with other organizations conducting air monitoring to benefit the communities of Commerce City and North Denver,” a spokesperson said on Sunday evening. Suncor spokesperson.
Residents of Commerce City like Renée Millard-Chacon remain skeptical of the company’s ability to monitor itself. Others also criticized the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Sunday.
The implementation of Suncor and Cultivando’s new air monitoring programs comes as the refinery plant 2 operating license is due for renewal.
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“We have to recognize when there is a disparity and we have to correct it when you have the capacity, especially when you have the funding to change it,” Millard-Chacon said. “We’re not going to solve this problem with the same thought that got us into this.”