COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Most people would say no to a giant trailer that incessantly beeps being parked in their backyard. Not Lucy Molina.
"I can’t even believe I’m saying it right now that it’s in my backyard! It’s in my backyard, you guys," Molina said at her Commerce City home.
The trailer is a mobile air quality lab, placed in Molina's yard by the nonprofit Cultivando. They are conducting a yearlong air quality investigation to find out what Suncor, the oil refinery down the street, is putting into the air.
The project is funded by Suncor with money from their $9 million settlement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment over air pollution violations.
"It smells like rotten eggs here every day," Molina said. "Is that normal? No, it’s not normal. It’s been allowed to become normal."
A trailer in a backyard might be an eyesore for some, but it shows progress to Molina.
"I hope it tells us the truth," she said. "And what do we need to protect ourselves from?"
Suncor said they are telling the truth, too, with their own air quality monitoring that began this summer after input from the community.
They hired a third-party company, Montrose Air Quality Services, to do the work.
“Suncor doesn’t touch this program," Donald Austin, the Commerce City Refinery Vice President, said. "We don’t do the measurements, we don’t do the reporting, we don’t provide that. I’m hoping through that that people will build trust in this data and understand."
“It’s like an insult, honestly," Molina said in response to the idea that she would trust Suncor. "We don’t trust them."
Because Suncor has violated public health standards in the past, Molina will be looking at the data coming from her backyard.
“Self-regulation doesn’t work," she said. "We don’t trust them, and we don’t trust our own government."
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