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Official DEQ news releases.

List administrator(s): Bill Hayden, Jennifer Underwood, Irina Calos, John Tragesser

DEQ revises air quality forecast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2008

Contact:
Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality has corrected the air quality forecast issued for May 27, 2008, in Richmond and Hampton Roads. Air quality today will be moderate, or Code Yellow.

On May 23, DEQ’s forecast for Memorial Day weekend called for unhealthy air quality on Monday and Tuesday. A new forecast was developed Sunday that called for moderate air quality. However, DEQ’s computer system was not working properly during the weekend. As a result, DEQ was unable to issue the revised forecast and a notification about the change.

From: Julia Wellman

Sent: May 27, 2008 at 10:53 am

Virginia DEQ reorganizes staff to address budget shortfall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2008

Contact:
Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is initiating a staff reorganization to streamline operations and meet a funding shortfall, DEQ Director David K. Paylor announced today.

“During the past two months, I have studied a number of ways to enable DEQ to continue providing core services without adversely affecting our mission and the dedicated staff who carry it out,” Paylor said.

“DEQ’s strategic plan calls for periodic review of the efficiency of our programs, and conducting the evaluation this year has enabled us to look for opportunities to improve and streamline operations – without sacrificing services to Virginia citizens,” he said. “The bottom line is that these changes make good organizational sense for DEQ and put us in a position to continue to do our jobs well.”

Because of a drop in funding that DEQ normally receives from several sources, DEQ must address a $1.2 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. DEQ will take these steps to make up the shortfall:

• Elimination of three upper-management positions. The director of the Water Resources Division and the director of the South Central Regional Office are retiring. Their positions, as well as the vacant policy director position, will be eliminated.

The work of the South Central Regional Office in Lynchburg will not be affected. The office and staff will become part of the regional operation directed from Roanoke. This consolidated region will have one regional director and two deputy regional directors.

The Water Resources Division will become part of the Water Division, and its work will not change. DEQ will continue its strong emphasis on water resources, especially the important issues of ground water withdrawal permits and water supply planning.

• Elimination of the DEQ Small Business Assistance Program, which helps small businesses meet the requirements of state air regulations. Though this program provides significantly more service than required under Virginia law, the small business assistance grants it previously administered no longer exist. “The funding for this program can be used more effectively to support the top-priority activities of DEQ’s Air Division,” Paylor said.

The organizational changes affect nine DEQ employees. Eight of them are eligible for retirement and therefore may receive enhanced benefits under Virginia’s Workforce Transition Act. The ninth person will have an opportunity to take another DEQ position. In addition, DEQ is eliminating five currently vacant positions.

Another operational change, unrelated to the budget shortfall, is the formation of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. The office will combine the staffs that draft air, water and waste regulations. This will enable DEQ to consolidate the management of regulatory development, improve consistency in dealing with the regulatory boards, and address areas of overlap among the air, water and waste programs.

These reorganization efforts are in addition to the 6 percent reductions DEQ implemented earlier in 2008 and another 1.5 percent reduction the state budget requires by June 2008. Paylor noted that all the reductions make DEQ responsible for continuing to be more efficient while minimizing the impacts on the DEQ staff and the agency’s environmental protection work.

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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: May 06, 2008 at 2:26 pm

VIRGINIA AIR QUALITY RULES FOR OZONE NOW PROVIDE GREATER HEALTH PROTECTION / Air pollution remains low overall, despite stricter standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2008

Contact:
Bill Hayden
804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- Under rules recently adopted by Virginia and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stricter ozone air quality standards now offer the strongest protection of human health in the Commonwealth’s history.

“It is important to understand that our air quality continues to improve across Virginia – it is not getting worse,” said David K. Paylor, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality. “But we are tightening the rules to ensure that people are exposed to smaller and smaller amounts of ozone pollution.”

EPA has revised the national ozone air quality standards based on new health information that demonstrates how ozone can lead to adverse health effects at lower concentrations than previously understood. As a result, the Air Quality Index and the air quality forecasts have been adjusted to reflect the new ozone standards.

The rules lower the amount of ozone in the air that is considered unhealthful for people susceptible to breathing difficulties. The new level is 76 parts per billion and above; previously, the level was 85 ppb.

Air Quality Action Days (Code Orange and Code Red) are now more likely to occur in Virginia between April and September, simply because air quality will reach those designations at lower ozone concentrations than before.

This already happened on April 18, 2008, when ozone did not meet the new, stricter standards in the Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville and Roanoke areas; as well as Shenandoah National Park and Caroline, Fauquier, Rockbridge and Wythe counties. The air quality in Virginia has not suddenly deteriorated. Rather, the air quality forecasts are designed to give better protection of public health, based on the latest health studies and revised national standards.

“We recognize that meeting these new standards may be difficult in some areas,” Paylor said. “But DEQ will carefully evaluate the options before us and develop a program that leads to ongoing improvements in the air we breathe.”

DEQ will resume ozone forecasts each afternoon beginning April 30, 2008. The forecasts for ozone and fine particles are available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov/airquality. To subscribe to free email notification of air quality forecasts, go to DEQcast at www.deq.virginia.gov/lists. Air quality forecasts also are updated each weekday afternoon by 5 p.m. at (804) 698-4444 or toll-free in Virginia at (800) 592-5482, ext. 4444.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: April 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Virginia launches new air quality monitoring site for Charlottesville-Albemarle area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2008

Contact:
Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has opened a new ambient air monitoring site serving the Charlottesville-Albemarle County area. Located on the grounds of Albemarle High School, the site will test the air for ground level ozone and fine particles.

Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere and protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful rays. But ozone at ground level is unhealthful and is formed by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. The ozone analyzer takes hourly averages each year from April 1 through October 31.

The monitoring site has two samplers that monitor fine particles, those no larger than 2.5 microns in diameter (a human hair has a diameter of about 70 microns). One fine particle monitor takes a 24-hour sample every third day, and the other continuously records hourly averages. These small particles can be emitted directly from sources such as vehicle exhaust, power plants and forest fires, or they can form when gases from sources such as industries and vehicles react in the air.

Air quality information from the monitors will be available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

Meteorological instruments to measure wind speed and direction will be installed soon. An additional monitor for larger particles also has been installed. This monitor is to be used as a teaching tool and is classified as an educational demonstration monitor.

Working in cooperation with Albemarle County public schools, the DEQ office of air quality monitoring in Glen Allen installed and outfitted the equipment. Staff at the DEQ Valley Regional Office in Harrisonburg will be responsible for operating and maintaining the site.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: April 16, 2008 at 10:51 am

Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2008

Contact:
Julia Wellman, DEQ
(804) 698-4399
jhwellman@deq.virginia.gov

Joe Croce, VMA
(804) 643-7489
jcroce@vamanufaturers.com

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr., announced the 33 winners of the 2008 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards on April 2 at the Environment Virginia 2008 conference in Lexington.

The awards recognize the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in three categories: environmental projects, environmental programs and land conservation. They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, government agencies and individuals.

Three entries were recognized at the highest award level, the Governor’s Flag:

• Micron Technology in Manassas for its successful implementation of an environmental management system, which ensures best management practices and innovative technologies are deployed throughout the facility.

• City of Charlottesville for its environmental sustainability initiative to protect and maintain environmental resources and to minimize waste.

• Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley Plant in Dublin for its recycling project that reuses 70 percent of the facility’s wastewater.

Award winners were chosen based on criteria related to environmental scope, impact, management and protection; community outreach, involvement and access; and a record of compliance with environmental regulations.

This year’s awards were sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and Virginia Tech’s Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement.

Additional information on the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: April 03, 2008 at 1:46 pm