Environmental Research Associates

Research & Consulting Ecologists

February 2008

Phila. Int. Airport22 Feb 2008 02:22 am

February 21, 2008

Open Letter to:
Delaware County Council,
201 W. Front St.,
Media, PA 19063

Re: Philadelphia International Airport Expansion and Airspace Redesign

Dear Members of Delaware County Council:

Although a suit with appeal is now being consolidated, with others, in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this could take some time as others become plaintiffs dissatisfied by FAA’s unilateral actions to violate the provisions of The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969and file suit in federal courts.  Separate suits are being consolidated in docket of the D.C. Circuit which has one-third of its appeals from agency decisions (such as FCC, FERC, EPA, NLRB, FTC and the FAA) as compared with less than 20% nationwide.  According to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., recently elevated from the D.C. Circuit to Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, about 25% of the cases in the D.C. Circuit are civil cases involving the federal government whereas there are only 5% nationwide; in summary, then, two-thirds of the cases before the D.C. Circuit involve the federal government in some civil capacity; the corresponding figure for the rest of the Courts of Appeals is less than 25%.  An adverse  decision of a U.S. Court of Appeals may be appealed to to the United States Supreme Court; the U.S. Supreme Court may or may not decide to hear it. 

A favorable decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit would be particularly welcomed by the numerous plaintiffs, numbering twelve (12) or more including Delaware County, because the Court of the D.C. Circuit is the Court from which four sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justices were elevated.; additionally, it is the Court of competent jurisdiction; it consists of a majority of members appointed by Republican Presidents as well as four sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justices.
Because the expansion of Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) will affect health, welfare, quality of life and economics for over one-half million of the population in 49 municipalities, 27 Boroughs, 21 Townships and 1 City, Delaware County Council filed a Stay of the Agency Order to redesign airspace over Delaware County, effectively challenging airport expansion. The decision to file this action was further fostered by by public outcry over the heavy-handed methodology of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to shrink-fit the current Environmental Impact Study to the runways involved in the expansion of Philadelphia International Airport into Delaware County; noise or air quality data from more distant areas from the airport in Delaware County was not deemed important enough to collect.      

If the case is settled or adjudicated in favor of PHL or FAA, the same procedure could be used over and over again to expand the airport and impact Delaware County; effectively becoming a taking of both the quality of life, producing adverse health effects, and bringing down negative environmental impacts upon Delaware County.

Accordingly, I raised several requests at the February 18, 2008 meeting of Delaware
County Council and was subsequently asked to submit them in writing:

Because a “blackout” on publicly available factual information concerning the progress of a court action exists after a suit is filed and before it is adjudicated, with corresponding lack of availability of public information, it is suggested that:

  • Briefs and current correspondence be filed openly and accessible to the public in, for example, the Delaware County Courthouse so that the present status of the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals is known to the public whose tax dollars support the legal action.
    Economic, as well as environmental impacts, of airport expansion upon governments in Delaware County and Pennsylvania are not known; this could be considerable for future planning of such things as ground transportation, automotive facilities including  parking lots,  renovations of the City of Chester as well as other municipalities.  It  is strongly recommended that Concept Master Planning as well as Comprehensive Planning take place and these plans be made available to all governments so that local planning may take place.  
  • Task the Delaware County Planning Department to produce a report, as well as periodic updates documenting  projections of costs and benefits associated with the airport expansion and the airspace  redesign in the format and style of an environmental impact statement with economic impact statement; this shall be continuing; use a 50-year planning framework.

Because technical scientific information  is only available as modeled information  for noise levels, (a model is a forecast or projection and is not based upon actual collected data in the area); it is not based upon actual data from aircraft flights over Delaware County (noise monitoring exists only in Ridley Township close to the airport) and EPA has already concluded that air quality is non-attainment for Delaware County it is recommended that (next three points):

  • a technical group be established to provide expert planning, noise level and air quality guidance,  to be a clearing house for collected field data used by the Planning Department, Delaware County Council as well as other governmental agencies. These data would be used to assess the adequacy of both models used to forecast contributions of aircraft to both noise levels and hazardous substances in ambient air; it could also form the basis for   Delaware County-wide planning associated with the airport expansion and airspace redesign.  Another benefit of collecting these data would be to raise challenges and secure changes in the FAA’s  methodology which favors modeled data most favorable to that agency.
  • Request and promptly secure both noise monitoring equipment and air monitoring for three (3) locations beneath flight paths in Delaware County, one of which should be along the flight path of Runway 17-35 in Haverford Township from which two (2) Resolutions, expressing dire concerns for the quality of life in the township the Board of Commissioners. are on the public record and have been presented to Delaware County Council.  New (or used and reconditioned) noise monitoring equipment may be obtained by request  to Philadelphia International Airport as the same or similar to equipment sold by  www.ERABeyondRadar.com , (Model TA 40,000), or equivalent sound level monitoring equipment manufactured by Bruel and Kjaer. A Signal Analyzer or its equivalent may also be suitable. The Sound Level monitoring equipment should be capable of recording sound levels on the “A” scale with subdivision breakdown by octave band.

The equipment shall be mounted on a concrete pad in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications, and be provided with electricity and two dedicated phone lines for data transfer. Computer software consistent with that used by FAA shall be used to analyze recorded data. Grants-in-aid to cover costs shall be requested from cooperating government agencies.

  • Explore air quality testing with both EPA and Pennsylvania DEP, obtain air monitoring equipment - or services - and determine chemical parameters to be periodically tested for as components of and hazardous substances, including carcinogens, from aircraft exhaust in the mixing zone below 3,000 ft at ground level.  The air quality testing shall be coordinated with documentation received from Philadelphia International Airport, as well as user airlines, for JP-8 jet fuel, deicers, power boosters, other fuel additives and other aircraft cleaners used.  Grants-in-aid to cover costs may also be requested from cooperating government agencies.

This letter embodies my oral presentation at the regularly scheduled  meeting of Delaware County Council on February 19, 2008.                
Sincerely yours,
Michael H. Levin
Environmental Scientist

Environmental Magazine11 Feb 2008 05:08 pm

Michael H. Levin, Ph.D., February 11, 2006
Communications to: www.EnvironResearchAssoc.com

Please Answer The Questions

  • Requested Action: Deer. As requested by the commissioners’ in 2007, when will the State Game Commission make a presentation including questions and answers of their recommendations for local overpopulations of deer in the Main Line - Haverford area. The challenge point of view is: if there is a local overpopulation it’s the State that must solve it humanely, not the local municipality.
  • Biofuels: Requested Action. Request a School Board member to  present at  the next commissioner’s meeting an explanation of the additional expense and why biofuels are being purchased for school busses when this contributes massively to greenhouse gasses for the forseeable 100 years, exactly the major problem it is intended to halt; at the same time request other steps now being taken to reduce fuel costs for bussing. 
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL): Runway 17-35 Extension. Request PHL to arrange for air and noise monitoring along the flight path for Runway 17-35 over Haverford as well as other municipalities in order to establish a baseline against which future changes may be measured; suggest sending forward the request to PHL and Delaware County Council.  Delaware County is already non-attainment for air quality and both air quality and noise affect public health adversely.
  • Havertown PCP Superfund Site: Requested Action.  Request commissioners’ forward a request to EPA to make oral/written presentations and provide alternatives for reuse of the Superfund Site and nearby properties as well as explain the EPA buy-out option for at least 77 unremedied properties in lieu of a non-digging or non-excavation  forever ordinance for unremedied lands, including township owned and other public properties. Recommend informing Congressman. EPA’s present actions over at least 12 of 25 years, or longer, do not inspire confidence that the Superfund Site and nearby properties are completely reuseable . . . nor will they ever be.