The Kensington Heights Civic Association (KHCA) filed a motion for summary disposition after a Costco environmental expert admitted a major calculation error that questions the gas station’s ability to meet EPA standards. According to the KHCA press release, in the July 30 special exception hearing the Costco expert admitted while on the witness stand to a mathematical error resulting in a 350 percent underestimation of air pollutants that result from auto exhaust fumes. The witness was forced to calculate the revised modeling results which show nitrogen oxide (NO2) levels significantly in excess of EPA thresholds. If granted, the motion would bring the special exception hearings to an immediate end, denying Costco’s bid for a gas station in Wheaton.
Highlights from the KHCA press release:
Nearly 80 hours into legal and scientific arguments, Costco’s special exception hearings took an unexpected turn last week as Costco’s key environment expert acknowledged a significant mathematical error in his report, jeopardizing the big-box retailer’s bid for a gas station in Wheaton, MD.
Costco’s expert divided when he should have multiplied, resulting in a 350% underestimation of the background levels of nitrogen oxides, a group of major air pollutants that results from auto exhaust fumes. The error was discovered by neighbors over the weekend and verified by opposition air quality expert Dr. Henry S. Cole. Costco’s expert confirmed the error during the hearing on Tuesday, July 30. With that error corrected and using Costco’s own approach to modeling emission levels, nitrogen dioxide concentrations would exceed maximum air quality standard set by the EPA, directly contradicting Costco’s repeated assertion that the gas station will operate in compliance with all EPA environmental and health standards. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Current scientific evidence links short-term NO2 exposures, ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, with adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma.
…studies show a connection between breathing elevated short-term NO2 concentrations, and increased visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions for respiratory issues, especially asthma.
While the motion is being considered by the County’s Board of Appeals, the Special Exception proceedings at the Office of Zoning & Administrative Hearings will continue as scheduled on September 9, 16, 20, and 23; and October 17, 21, 24, and 28.# # #