By Christopher Seifert
The Salt Lake City Games will be the first in Olympic history to implement a plan to protect air quality.
The Salt Lake Organizing Committee and several government agencies conducted a study a year ago to determine the effects of the Olympics on air quality in Utah.
The findings of the study aided SLOC in implementing a pollution reduction plan known as the Olympic Cleaner and Greener Program.
The study”s findings indicated that pollution could be minimized over the course of the Olympics.
“What we found was there were no areas that have major impact and no areas exceeding air quality standards,” said Diane Conrad, director of environmental programs for SLOC.
Conrad said cities such as Atlanta and Los Angeles experienced improvements in air quality when they hosted the Olympic Games.
“It”s certainly not what you”d expect,” Conrad said.
SLOC projects 180,000 tons of pollution will be created over the course of the Olympics and Paralympics.
One of SLOC”s primary strategies in reducing harmful emissions during the games relates to local businesses.
SLOC has encouraged businesses to donate their government emission credits.
The government assigns each company in the Salt Lake area a limit of credits. A credit is equivalent to a ton of harmful air emissions.
Ordinarily, a company which can operate beneath their allotted number of credits may trade those credits to another company.
New companies are not allowed to operate within the area unless they can gain emission credits from another source. This allows Salt Lake City to maintain a constant level of air emissions.
Local companies such as Kennecott Corporation, DuPont Waste Management and Blue Source have donated credits to SLOC.
After a company donates credits to SLOC, SLOC retires the credits permanently, thereby reducing the amount of air emissions.
“For a seventeen day event we removed more than a year”s worth of potential air emissions,” said Dave Workman, environmental program manager for SLOC.
Pollution caused by local businesses was not the only concern, however.
“The major source of emissions will be coming from vehicles,” said Cheryl Heying, program manager for the Utah Division of Air Quality.
The Division of Air Quality is also working to minimize the amount of harmful emissions during the games.
“We”ve been working with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to get the message out,” Heying said.
The Division of Air Quality encourages ride sharing, car-pooling and telecommuting during the games.
“Pretty much what we”re doing is business as usual,” she said.
Heying says they are also recommending for individuals to leave downtown Salt Lake by 2:00 p.m.