Dunes air study delayed

Release of a controversial report connecting off-highway vehicle use at Oceano Dunes to particulate pollution on the Nipomo Mesa has been delayed and will be released for public review in early January.

Air officials had hoped to release the study before Christmas. However, incorporating changes from scientific peer-reviewers and final fact-checking has taken longer than expected, said Aeron Arlin-Genet, spokeswoman with the county Air Pollution Control District.

“We’re still wrapping it up,” she said. “We want to make sure it’s good to go.”

This means that public workshops scheduled for Jan. 5 and 6 to discuss the findings of the report will be delayed a week or more. Once complete, the full report will be posted on the air district’s Web page and the public workshops will be rescheduled.

Although the full report is not available, its overall conclusions were announced at a recent meeting of the air district’s board of directors. The State Parks department and key elected officials have also been briefed on the findings.

The study finds that there is a strong link between off-highway vehicle riding at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area and unhealthy levels of particulate pollution on the Nipomo Mesa. Persistent winds blowing across the riding area from the ocean carry tiny particles of sand and dust to populated areas of the Mesa, which has the highest particulate pollution in the county.

The air board will hold a hearing on the study at its Jan. 27 meeting and discuss possible steps to minimize the pollution.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.