Why is Air Quality important at MCAS Cherry Point? The Clean Air Act Amendments require EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for wide-spread pollutants from numerous and diverse sources considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against visibility impairment, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.
MCAS Cherry Point is considered a major source for air pollutants, the definition of which means that potential emissions of criteria pollutants exceed 100 tons per year. The EPA uses six "criteria pollutants" as indicators of air quality throughout the United States. They are:
- Particulate Matter (PM)
- Ozone (O3)
- Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Lead (Pb)
EPA has established thresholds for these pollutants. If a particular area in a state meets these thresholds, the area is considered to be an "attainment area" for that pollutant. If an area exceeds the thresholds for a particular pollutant, the area is designated a "non-attainment area" for that pollutant. Eastern North Carolina is considered in attainment for all criteria pollutants.
What is an emission source? An emission source is any place or object that releases pollutants. A source can be a power plant, gas station, boiler, or paint booth. Mobile sources include cars, trucks, and other mobile pieces of equipment.
What are the sources, and how much do we emit at MCAS Cherry Point? The primary sources of air pollutants at MCAS Cherry Point are the boilers used to heat buildings and provide process steam for the base. Other sources include paint and blast booths, fuel dispensing pumps, aboveground storage tanks, and a variety of industrial activities. The emissions on the Air Station are regulated by the North Carolina Division of Air Quality through issued permits and various other state and federal rules. In 2005, MCAS Cherry Point emitted approximately 653 tons of criteria air pollutants, fifty percent of which were emitted as sulfur dioxide generated as a direct result of coal and fuel oil combustion at the Central Heating Plant.
What is MCAS Cherry Point doing to prevent and control air pollution? Most of the air emission sources on the Air Station fall under a specific permit. These sources require specific monitoring to ensure that the emission levels fall within permit limits, and compliance reports are submitted to the North Carolina Division of Air Quality on a regular basis. The Air Station currently operates under a Title V permit, which is required for all major sources. This permit regulates all air sources under a single permit and requires specific monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting procedures. MCAS Cherry Point is always striving to reduce air emissions by installing emission control equipment, revising operating scenarios that maximize productivity while reducing pollutants, and converting to more environmentally friendly materials to aid in the reduction of criteria and other air pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
For More Information Contact the MCAS Cherry Point's Air Program Manager at 252-466-5917 or by email