City pollution hearing finds some communities aren’t feeling much improvement

Pat Loeb
December 12, 2018 - 4:23 pm

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Philadelphia's pollution problem got scrutiny, Wednesday, at a city council hearing on environmental justice. Health officials report improvement, but advocates want more done.

The air in Philadelphia is better than it was 25 years ago, according to Health Commissioner Tom Farley. He testified that from having "Severe non-attainment" of EPA standards on polluting chemicals, it now complies with all except for Ozone, where it still falls short of the standard.

“This progress has happened even as the national standards for attainment have become more stringent,” he said.

Farley admits that the city doesn't measure air quality for specific neighborhoods, and Nicetown resident Eric Marsh thinks that's a problem for neighborhoods like his.

“As a parent volunteer at Steel (Elementary School), I watch children on a daily basis not be able to go outside and play because of their asthmatic conditions,” he said.

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Marsh, like most of the witnesses, was intensely opposed to a gas plant SEPTA is building in Nicetown.

Neighbors say they are working to get its permit revoked. Committee chair Cindy Bass has been working with them, but says the hearing was aimed at finding broad-based ways to curb pollution.

“We did get a lot of good ideas, a lot of very good feedback from our citizens to make the city less polluted,” Bass said.