Residents who attended last week’s Community Board 6 meeting got to see a presentation about a citywide plan that will also affect the neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Rego Park.
The presentation was regarding eliminating the use of heating oil numbers 4 and 6, or “heavy oils,” in order to improve the air quality in homes and in New York City overall. The use of those kinds of oils releases an air pollutant called fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), which is an air pollutant that effects people’s health when air levels of PM 2.5 are elevated. Bethany Bowyer, who is a policy advisor at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), was at the community meeting to talk with residents about the plan.
According to the DEP’s presentation, the yearly impacts from these types of oils contribute to more than 3,000 deaths; 2,000 hospitalizations for lung and heart conditions; and 6,000 emergency room visits for children and adults with asthma.
In 2008-09, the Department of Health conducted a New York City Community Air Survey, which monitored 150 sites throughout the city. The survey found that levels of PM 2.5 were the highest in parts of NYC that had the highest level of heavy oils 4 and 6.
In order to phase out the use of those heavy oils, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the
Clean Heat Program, which aims to accelerate the use of cleaner fuel types by 2015. One regulation is that buildings must convert to stop using both types of fuels by July 2012. They will have to switch to a cleaner type of fuel like number 2 oil, biodiesel, or natural gas by the year 2030.
As part of Bloomberg’s clean heat program, beginning on July 1, the DEP will no longer approve certificates of operation for the number 6 oil. That kind of permit must be renewed every three years. The goal of the program, according to the DEP’s presentation, is to cut P.M 2.5 emissions by 50 percent by the end of 2013.
Queens makes up for 12 percent of buildings that use the heavy oil citywide, which is the third most among the five boroughs. Manhattan and the Bronx both have a higher percentage of heavy oil use. CB 6 has 121 buildings that burn heavy oil, which is less than one percent of Queens’ heavy oil percentage.
According to the DEP, all of the heavy oil buildings that are in CB 6’s borders are residential apartments, and 110 are apartments that use elevators.
By Luis Gronda