Fair Tech Collective
Sarah Gates
2017 Fellow

About the Project

The Fair Tech Collective is a non-profit organization based at Drexel University that engages in the use of science and technology to empower communities. This project was a component of their “Meaning from Monitoring” initiative and sought to investigate the impact of petrochemical pollution from five major refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area using data on refinery flaring activity and air toxin concentrations measured by fenceline monitors.

To visualize the impact of pollution from refinery flaring, Sarah created a GIF animation that combined maps and graphs to detail monthly flaring activity in 2015 and 2016 at each refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sarah analyzed the proximity of each refinery to sensitive receptors, focusing on the percentage of each census block population that is classified as a sensitive receptor and locations of facilities with high sensitive receptor concentrations: schools, daycares, hospitals, and nursing homes. Results of the analysis indicate that there are 71 facilities with high concentrations of sensitive receptors located within 2.5 miles of a refinery.

Finally, Sarah calculated the maximum hourly average concentrations of air toxins detected by fenceline monitors. During 2016, the Atchison Village fenceline monitor, located in Richmond, CA, recorded a maximum 1-hour average sulfur dioxide concentration of 134 ppb, almost double the EPA air quality standard limit of 75 ppb.