Tremont residents have been complaining recently about poor air quality. In response, the City of Cleveland's Environment Division set up a 15-day monitoring system. Tremont is located in Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman's Ward 13. He's introducing legislation to beef up enforcement of air pollution laws, but it's not likely the mayor will sign it. 90.3's Janet Babin reports.
Janet Babin- Sandy Yambor made what her former neighbors consider an unusual choice three years ago. The nurse, wife and mother, found her dream house in downtown Cleveland. After years in the rural suburbs, she sold her renovated farm house, and bought a Queen Anne victorian home on West 14th street in Tremont. Everything's been great, except for the air quality. Within the past few weeks, Yambor says strange smells and sights are becomming commonplace. She describes a weird cloud she saw coming from the direction of LTV Steel's blast furnace on Easter Sunday.
Sandy Yambor- It was a giant orange cloud. It wasn't smoke, it wasn't steam, it was orange.
JB- Many other Tremont residents saw the orange cloud, and called the City of Cleveland's division of the environment. Commissioner Mark Vilem responded with an extended air quality surveillance program.
Mark Vilem- We initiate a specialized surveillance program, and we will extend hours and have staff work off hours, or off shifts.
JB- From May 1st, to May 15th, the division monitored Tremont air around the LTV Steel compound. The monitors took place only from dawn to dusk. Vilem says the department can't monitor at night because of safety reasons. After the first week, Yambor says the department explained the initial findings.
SY- What they told us is that of the senven days monitored so far, they found violations each of the seven days, specific to one place.
JB- Yambor says the results were reassuring, because the city's division of Air Pollution Control was able to confirm the high level of pollution occurances coming from LTV Steel, despite the failing company's plans to close up shop this summer.
SY- The upsetting part is what happens with the findings when we're clearly living with the problem.
JB- Yambor says the paper trail of violations seems to go in a never ending circle between the city and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Bob Hodanbosi is chief of the Divison of Air Pollution Control at OEPA. He says the state has a contract with the city. It provides money to the Divison of Air Pollution to review air permits, conduct monitoring, do inspections, handle complaints and prepare enforcement actions.
Bob Hodanbosi- They could through their city charter, enforce their own laws.
JB- Councilman Joe Cimperman of Ward 13 has introduced legislation that he says will help the city to respond to violations more quickly.
Joe Cimperman- We want to make the city enforce the laws on the books.
Michelle Whitlow- It's unfortunate that Mr. Cimperman doesn't understand the laws of the city of Cleveland.
JB- Cleveland Health Director Michelle Whitlow says Cimperman's new regulations wouldn't matter, because the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has the right of first refusal for any enforcement action, and the State usually takes the lead on enforcement issues. Cimperman's ordinance is headed to council's public health committee for review -- meanwhile, residents are working on a plan to monitor their own back yards, any time they smell or see something unusual. The Tremont West Development Corporation is planning fund raisers this Spring, to foster the independent air emission testing. In Cleveland, Janet Babin, 90.3 WCPN.