Proposed bill would require inspection of odor complaint in a public area

  • By Madeline Coats WNPA Olympia News Bureau
  • Tuesday, February 26, 2019 2:12pm
  • News

OLYMPIA — State lawmakers seek to revise the definition of air pollution and require an air quality inspector to act on a complaint of an odor or emission in a public area.

House Bill 1637 is co-sponsored by Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, and Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle.

The legislation redefines air pollution in the Clean Air Act to include any odor or air emission that unreasonably interferes with a person’s use or enjoyment of a public space.

The definition describes an odor as anything sufficiently noxious or offensive as to prevent normal use of a facility, or that creates a risk of adverse health effects.

HB 1637 requires an air quality inspector, on behalf of a Clean Air Act enforcement authority, to investigate a nuisance complaint of an odor or air emission in a public area. A nuisance is an activity that injures health, offends decency, or renders other persons insecure in life or in the use of property, the bill says.

Stuart Clark, air quality program manager from the state Department of Ecology, testified in opposition of the bill at a public hearing last Wednesday.

He said that the bill could work against clean air by diluting and confusing existing enforcement authority and increase potential legal challenges to agency actions.

“We believe that the Clean Air Act is already quite strong and broad in the authority that it gives us and local agencies,” Clark said. “We believe that changes are unnecessary.”

According to the bill, authorized municipal governments and certain regulatory agencies may file a civil action against the source of an odor or emission after repeated findings of a nuisance or health hazard.

Nancy Ousley, assistant city manager of Kenmore, testified in support of the provision with concerns about an asphalt plant near Lake Washington and the Burke Gilman Trail. The city has received numerous complaints from residents and businesses about fumes from the plant, she said.

“We are supportive of having more practical ways for people to weigh in when they are experiencing discomfort,” Ousley said.

Margaret Moore, resident of Northeast Seattle, spoke in support of improving air quality in public parks. Moore is a cyclist who pedals more than 4,000 miles per year and frequently rides through Kenmore.

“When I bike on the Burke Gilman trail past the Kenmore plant, the exhaust fumes flow directly across the trail,” Moore said.

The cyclist suffers from recurrent sinus infections related to exposure to air pollution, she said.

An athlete running or biking draws air deeply into their lungs where these particles do a large amount of damage, she said.

“The stench is bad enough, but what really bothers me more is the impact on the air quality and what it is I’m breathing,” Moore said.

“It is an unacceptable public health hazard.”


This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

More in News

Malolo becomes the first Canadian R2AK winner

Custom trimaran sails into Ketchikan, Alaska

Possible warehouse on hold pending wetland permit

Amazon spokesperson confirms retailer’s involvement in project

Fire district to add water tender in Saturday ceremony

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to bless apparatus

Mystery Bay closed to shellfish harvesting

The state Department of Health has closed Mystery Bay… Continue reading

Three people were transported to hospitals for injuries on Monday after a collision on U.S. Highway 101 that involved two SUVs and a semi-truck. (Clallam County Fire District 3)
Three transported to hospitals after wreck east of Sequim

Three people were transported for non-life-threatening injuries after a collision… Continue reading

Victoria-based Team Malolo was poised to win the 2024 Race to Alaska on Monday. At midday, the team was 20 miles out from the finish line in Ketchikan, Alaska, while the second-place team was still about 70 miles behind. (Taylor Bayly/Northwest Maritime)
Team Malolo poised to win Race to Alaska

Trimaran had 70-mile lead over competitors

Peninsula College trustees approve budget, bargaining agreement

Full-time enrollment up 30 percent this spring over last year

Jefferson County adopts summer fire regulations

New rules automatically raise fire danger July through September

Port Townsend wins community sustainability award

PORT TOWNSEND – The city of Port Townsend won the 2024 award… Continue reading

Entities partner to provide Port Townsend visitor information

Port Townsend’s marketing workgroup and its lodging tax advisory… Continue reading

Print edition available today, e-edition only this Wednesday

Peninsula Daily News has a print edition available to… Continue reading

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and Jordan McTear, decorate a vehicle in preparation for Friday’s graduation parade from Ediz Hook to the high school. Dozens of adorned cars and trucks carried grads through the streets of Port Angeles as a lead-up to the graduation ceremony that evening at Civic Field. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Congrats, grads!

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and… Continue reading