The smoke — and smell — of commercial BBQ operations in Manteca and other San Joaquin Valley communities are in the crosshairs of a proposed San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District effort to reduce airborne particulate matter.
Reducing pollutants from such BBQs that have become a common feature among smaller valley restaurants in the past decade is a component of the district’s overall strategy to meet federal health-based air quality mandates. And while district staff projects perhaps several hundred restaurants in the entire San Joaquin Valley will fall under the rule, it may end up impacting at least some of the prolific smaller BBQ operations in Manteca.
Charbroiling equipment rules already in place for restaurants since 2002 are likely to expand to mom and pop operations in 2017. The new rule is expected to exempt commercial endeavors that generate a “small” number of charbroiled steaks and burgers although the amount hasn’t been clearly defined. In the neighboring Bay Area air quality district those restaurants that buy at least 1,000 pounds of meat every week are regulated by air pollution rules.
The district has noted a variety of technologies for capturing emissions from under-fired charbroilers have been developed or improved in recent years. To ease the transition to the pending standards, the District is seeking a small group of Valley restaurant partners to participate in a demonstration program. Participating restaurants will be provided funding for the full cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining installed systems during a demonstration period covering two years of operation. Participating restaurants will be allowed to keep the equipment after the demonstration period has concluded.
So far, only one restaurant has signed on in the eight-county air quality district — Stockton’s Habit Burger Grill.
The district is under the gun to cut overall particulate emissions by roughly 80 percent or 238 tons by 2024. While most particulate matter pollution comes from cars, trucks, trains, and farm equipment the district estimates 500,000 pounds come from commercial charbroilers.
The district’s Check before You Burn program that regulates when wood fireplaces can be used has reduced such pollution by 15 percent in cities like Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.
The drop in particulate pollution has been tied to a decline in heart disease throughout the valley.
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