DEQ plans for the 2012 Winter ozone season in the Upper Green River Basin
DEQ will provide daily ozone updates to the public
by Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
December 22, 2011
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, is again reaching out to residents of the Upper Green River Basin in anticipation of elevated ozone levels. Elevated levels of ozone have been observed in previous years during the months of February and March.
Ozone adversely affects the respiratory system, especially in children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions. On days when elevated ozone levels are expected, people in these sensitive groups should limit strenuous or extended outdoor activities, primarily in the afternoon and evening. More information on ozone and the health effects of ozone is available at the Wyoming Department of Health website, http://www.health.wyo.gov.
In preparation for the winter of 2012 and the possibility of elevated ozone occurring in the Upper Green River Basin, the AQD is again initiating in-house weather forecasting. Forecasting by the AQD’s meteorologists will consist of evaluating whether a strong temperature inversion in conjunction with low winds, snow cover and clear skies is likely to occur. This is the combination of factors which, together with the presence of ozone forming emissions, appear to result in elevated ozone levels.
In the past, the AQD issued an ozone advisory for the Upper Green River Basin if it was determined that meteorological conditions favored the development of elevated ozone. These advisories did two things. First, it initiated industry short-term contingency plans to help reduce ozone precursors. Also, they updated the public of possible elevated ozone levels. However, this advisory was released 24-hours in advance and presented challenges to update the public if conditions changed.
To respond to these challenges, the AQD will continue to forecast, but will for the winter of 2012 now provide updates to the public daily. These winter ozone updates will give expected conditions for the current and next day. The winter ozone updates will be geared specifically toward making sure the public has the information needed to help make decisions about outdoor activity. This change will allow AQD the flexibility to provide up-to-date information when forecasted conditions change unexpectedly.
These winter ozone updates will be conveyed in several ways to the public. Beginning January 3, the main page of the WDEQ’s website, http://deq.state.wy.us, and the AQD’s Winter Ozone website, http://winterozone.org, will carry a daily message of current and next-day conditions. The public can also sign up at the Winter Ozone website to receive daily winter ozone updates by email. Next, the WDEQ will notify all media outlets in Sublette County of the current winter ozone update. Media outlets include Sublette County newspapers, radio stations, and online news sources. In fact, KPIN radio will broadcast a winter ozone update everyday at noon. Finally, citizens may also call 1-888-WYO-WDEQ (1-888-996-9337) to hear a recorded message (updated by noon every day) regarding any changes in the forecasted conditions that may impact ozone concentrations during the latter half of the day.
The AQD will continue the short-term emission reduction contingency plan program with oil and gas industry representatives operating in the proposed non-attainment area of southwest Wyoming. Oil and gas companies including those with production, drilling and service operations have volunteered to take short-term actions to further reduce emissions in response to forecasted conditions that favor possible elevated ozone levels. These contingency plans will be implemented on Ozone Action Days. The Action Days will be issued by AQD 24-hours in advance when forecasting indicates that weather conditions would be conducive to the development of elevated ozone levels for the next day.
On Ozone Action Days, everyone – including non-oil and gas industry, governmental agencies and the public, is encouraged to voluntarily reduce emissions. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, eliminating vehicle idling and postponing nonessential trips.
The AQD operates several monitoring stations in the Upper Green River Basin. Real-time monitored data, including current ozone levels being measured at these stations, can be found at www.wyvisnet.com.