Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare Inc.
A Not for Profit Organization

Noise Pollution Health Studies How to Help About AReCO  
Activities Contact Us Links Search Home

Testimony of Jack Saporito to the Illinois-Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of US-Citizens Aviation Watch Association and the Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare regarding United Airlines - OíHare Maintenance Facility, OíHare International Airport. Application #031600FXH - Aircraft and ground Support Equipment Maintenance.

April 19, 1999

Tonight I am representing two organizations. The Alliance of Residents Concerning OíHare, representing 1200 members, residents from 27 communities and US-Citizens Aviation Watch Association, one of the largest environmental organizations which is an association of municipalities, grass-roots and civic organizations representing over one million members regarding the degradation caused by aviation.

First, I would like to begin by saying that through working with people in your agency I know that you are concerned about the serious health and environmental problems that OíHare and its flights create for a large percentage of the population living and working even many miles from the airport.

Based on the studies of other airports, it appears that OíHare sources and aircraft air pollution affects the health of millions of people living nearby. I have included documentation.

OíHare operations create extraordinarily massive amounts of harmful air pollution. Because dynamics of airport operations are so much different than that of ground transportation and other stationary sources; hundreds, possibly thousands of raw compounds and their synergistic, solar, atmospheric, combustion and decomposing effects are not only toxic to the people living and working within a few miles of the airport, but also in flight tracks many miles away.

The point is that you are considering deeming Unitedís maintenance facility as a stationary point source and independent of the airportís aggregate pollution inventory. Thus, it will not be considered as a major source of pollution and will not be considered in the total picture.

The airport and all of its related operations is a major polluter. All of not only Unitedís, but OíHareís activities need to be calculated together, as one source. The US-EPA acknowledges this in CERCLA and common sense dictates that if your objective is to reduce emissions, you cannot allow massive amounts of emissions to "slip through the cracks" because of existing loopholes in the laws and regulations.

The industry is poisoning us and our kids because no government agency regulates what comes out of the back end of those aircraft. Even the US-EPA does not have a clear picture of the hazardous and toxic emissions or damage that this industry creates. No one knows what more than 20% of the exhaust emissions are; they do, however, form deadly mutative compounds such as NOCs, PAH, as well as photochemical criteria pollutants such as O3 and NO2 (the poisonous brown cloud that we see for many miles around the airport in the summer).

I am prepared to defend my next statement, and am submitting evidence from the Federal Aviation Administrationís Office of Environment and Energy: If Mayor Daley and House Speaker Hastert get their way based on what is predicted to occur globally and nationally regarding aviation passenger and cargo growth, flights could double and possibly triple in Chicago...and Midway is landlocked. Daley says he can handle them all at the two existing airports. Guess what airport they are going to?

A US-EPA official speaking on National Public Radio in March predicted that aviation emissions will double within the next decade. People in your agency have also confided that as bad as it is, itís going to get worse. One out of every two of us is expected to get cancer as a result of more flights and cancer is only the tip of the iceberg. What about the respiratory diseases, asthma, emphysema; liver damage and scores more that are listed on the summaries of studies that I am presenting you? The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported "...children born near sources of atmospheric pollution, including major airports, are up to 20% more likely to die of leukemia and solid tumor (nonblood) cancers before they reach adulthood."

The Natural Resources Defense Council just petitioned the US-EPA on behalf of AReCO and US-CAWA regarding the following: Under CERCLA, "The intent of the law is clear, that the airport itself must report all releases." Surely this must be the intent of the Clean Air Act.

Right now, loopholes cover-up the public health threat from the full horrifying damage the industry is spewing into our environment. The people in this room and people living in flight tracks even many miles from the airport have a right to be horrified and angry at what damage the airport is causing them. They have a right to know what all the emissions are, the amounts, and how they damage their health. I also ask you to now support our bills in Springfield, the "OíHare Air Toxic and Community Right to Know Act." (HB.918-S.928)

You know there are many serious problems. Lets start finding out what they are by having the airport report as an aggregate, a single source. If under current regulations you cannot count the emissions as a whole, we need you to petition the US-EPA on our behalf to rectify this problem.

I beg you to count this maintenance facility, as part of the airportís emissions -- so that you can get a true picture of the problem, so that you can protect us. I beg you to care...demand of the feds to get control of the problem, to close the loopholes and demand compulsory regulation of an industry that has a history of decades of abuse. I will also be presenting you with evidence that OíHare doesnít report and/or grossly under-reports their hazardous substances. The airlines, City of Chicago and the aviation industry, must become responsible to the community.

Deny United the permit it is seeking until you close the loopholes, calculate all of the airportís activities as a whole, a bubble, just like any other industry. Protect public health first!

Jack Saporito

US-CAWA & AReCO, POB 1702, Arlington Height, IL 60006, 847/506-0670