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5 projects selected to improve public health around Suncor Refinery

The projects, which will cost nearly $2.3 million, will be funded by Suncor as part of a settlement, said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Suncor will fund five programs as part of a settlement with the state to improve public health in the neighborhoods surrounding its refinery in Commerce City, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said on Tuesday.

A community committee chose the projects, which will cost $2,272,400 and will be funded by Suncor as part of a March 2020 settlement with CDPHE over violations of state and federal law.

> Video above: Some Denver community members argue for change as Suncor's permit is up for renewal.

The Supplemental Environmental Projects projects chosen from 20 applications were given final approval May 8 by the 11-member committee made up of nine community members and representatives from CDPHE and Suncor.

The projects will impact southern Commerce City and unincorporated Adams County, along with the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in north Denver.

Continuous air monitoring

Air quality at the refinery will be monitored to identify and quantify the most concerning air pollutants that adversely impact pubic health and the environment.

It is the first step of a two-part proposal from nonprofit Cultivando, which requested $869,989 in its application.

Education, modeling and monitoring efforts

Initiatives and studies will provide a fuller picture of the health and environmental impacts from the refinery, and develop community outreach and education programs.

This is the second part of Cultivando's proposal, requesting $869,421 in project funds.

Pursuing community stewardship

This project calls for stewardship of small parcels of land for the purpose of increasing community ownership of "historically neglected parcels" and reclaiming them for pollution mitigation, community benefits and environmental education.

This proposal from non-profit GES Coalition requested $143,722 in supplemental funding.

Planting additional trees

This project calls for planting more trees in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods to increase tree canopy and foliage, educate and train residents and expand a pilot tree planting project.

The proposal from the nonprofit Globeville First requested $241,386 in funds.

Improving air quality

This proposal is for improving the air quality at three schools and a public library in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.

The proposal from a coalition of DeSmog Denver, Unite North Metro Denver and the United Community Action Network of Metro Denver requested $147,970 in funds.

The committee also allocated about $117,000 in leftover funding to Cultivando, GES Coalition and DeSmog proposals in Denver.

“These supplemental projects represent one way in which we are holding Suncor accountable for violating state and federal law,” said Shaun McGrath, director of Environmental Health and Protection at CDPHE. “We’re going to use each avenue we have to make sure Suncor is following the law and respecting its neighbors and the Colorado environment.”

Suncor planned to hold public meetings on Zoom on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 26. At the meetings, participants will have the opportunity to ask about the air monitoring program and hear from environmental experts, engineers, scientists, analysts and technicians selected to develop and implement the community air monitoring network and provide near real-time air quality information to the public. 

RELATED: Suncor Energy hopes improvements 'regain community’s trust'

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RELATED: Suncor refinery to pay $9 million in settlement for air pollution violations

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