On Monday, September 19, the New England Regional US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a press conference at the Conley Terminal in South Boston to announce funding for four Massachusetts projects to improve air quality through clean diesel technologies. The Chelsea Collaborative’s (Collaborative) Green Space and Recreation Committee was awarded $280,000 as part of a partnership with Don Shapiro Produce of Everett to reduce diesel emissions focusing on Chelsea and Everett, Massachusetts. For the EPA, this is part of a larger effort with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and several other organizations, to leverage significant resources to reduce diesel emissions, improve public health, and promote clean diesel technology. For the Collaborative, this is part of an ongoing effort to address air quality issues and is seen as a continuation of a Recovery Act-funded project through which the Collaborative replaced the diesel engines with electric engines in 90 refrigerated units which ran 24 hours a day 7 days a week at the New England Produce Center. The project with Shapiro Produce will replace an additional 11 diesel engines with electric.
“Through this grant,” Catherin Maas, an active Green Space member states, “we feel fortunate to be able to continue with our commitment to improve local air quality by reducing harmful diesel emissions which will lessen the negative health impacts associated with these emissions.” Diesel engines contribute significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health risks, including asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Children are especially vulnerable. The Northeast has some of the highest asthma rates in the nation, including a childhood asthma rate above 10 percent in all six New England states. The Collaborative project eliminates the need to idle, and directly benefits the densely populated communities of Everett and Chelsea, both considered environmental justice communities. The Collaborative projects collectively will reduce particulate matter annually by 4.66 tons or 9,320 pounds. As well as reducing carbon dioxide, a climate change contributor, by 1,177 tons or 2,354,000 pounds annually.
Jovanna Garcia-Soto, Lead Organizer for the Collaborative’s Green Space and Recreation Committee explains,” Pollution sources are disproportionately located in low income communities and communities of color. According to the EPA every neighborhood in Chelsea is an environmental justice neighborhood. We have a right to breath clean air, to have clean water, to have access to the waterfront, to green spaces, and to open spaces. A healthy environment is not a privilege it is a right for everyone regardless of where you come from, the color of your skin or how much money you make.” To get involved in efforts to improve Chelsea’s air quality or for more information on the project please contact Jovanna Garcia-Soto, the Lead Organizer for the Green Space and Recreation Committee at 617-889-6080 ext 104 or at [email protected].