Truth in Aviation: September 12, 2002 (Vol. 7, #4)

Port Asks Superior Court To Overrule
Pollution Control Hearings Board Order

On 6 September, the Port of Seattle filed an appeal in King County Superior Court, seeking removal of important environmental protections imposed on the third runway project by the State Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB).

The hearing date for the appeal has been set for Monday, 7 April 2003, before Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer.

The Port’s action follows the PCHB’s decision (issued on 12 August) that the Port’s third-runway project could proceed – but only if the Port complied with stringent conditions imposed by the Board to protect water quality. When the Board’s 139 page decision was first issued, the Port declared victory: “We got our permit, the stay was lifted” said Sea-Tac spokesperson Bob Parker at the time.

However, since then the Port has said that it cannot complete the runway project under the Board’s constraints.

First, the Port filed a motion with the Board, asking that the Board reconsider its decision on one key environmental control (preventing importation of contaminated fill for the runway project). The motion claimed that the clean-fill requirements would make construction of the third runway “impossible”.

Next, the Port then withdrew its reconsideration request, clearing the way for the appeal to the courts, filed on 6 September.

Peter Eglick, lead attorney for Airport Communities Coalition, was quoted in the Daily Journal of Commerce on 9 September as saying, “I’m sorry that they don’t believe they can comply with the board’s requirements for protection of the environment and still build the project. We’re really enjoying this,” he added. “Every time they have environmental conditions put in, they say they can’t build the project.” Details of the Port’s claimed difficulties are contained in the motion for reconsideration .

The appeal questions the scientific validity of some of the pollution controls put in place by the Board and even challenges the legal authority of the Board to act. The Port wants the Superior Court to remove eight of the 16 environmental protections imposed by the PCHB. A summary of the points under appeal has been prepared by Rick Poulin, attorney for Citizens Against Sea-Tac Expansion.

The Airport Communities Coalition said that it has predicted many times that the third-runway project could not proceed if the Port was required to comply with environmental protection laws, particularly those guarding against water pollution. The ACC was pleased with the aspects of the PCHB decision that required the Port to comply with anti-pollution laws. The Port’s latest attack confirms again that the Port cannot build the third runway and comply with environmental protection laws.

The appeal marks the third time the Port has turned to the legal system to weaken or set aside important environmental protections for the third-runway project.

Lora Lake Suffering During Construction

loralake2001_smPhotos of Lora Lake show a stunning deterioration over just one year nearby Port activity.

The Lake is on the north side of Sea-Tac, closer to Port trucking and construction activities than other wetland areas which, so far, show no similar deterioration.


Next Clearcut?

Some neighbors on the south west side of Tyee Golf Course in Des Moines have received post cards from the Port announcing that the Port will be cutting trees south and west of the golf course for a month starting Sept. 16 as an aviation safety measure.

That’s odd. The golf course is 150 feet lower than the runway. Those must be some mighty tall trees. The Port notice doesn’t say precisely where this is, just on Port and State property near the golf course. What Port property? What State property? A month worth of logging is a lot of logging. Do they have a logging permit? Are the trees in the Des Moines watershed? Have they done environmental studies?

Those who are concerned about this issue are encouraged to call Rachel Garsen at 248-6851.

County Council Sets Hearing Dates of 16 & 26 September for KCIA Part 150 Study

The recommendations from King County Airport’s Part 150 study will be the subject of two hearings before the King County Council in September, to complete County approval of the study’s noise-abatement proposals.

The recommendations from King County Airport’s Part 150 study will be the subject of a briefing, followed by a public hearing, on Monday, 16 September, before the Council’s Committee of the Whole, according to a notice issued by Anne Noris, Clerk of the Council (206) 296-1020). The briefing will begin at 9.30 a.m.

A second hearing is on the recommendations scheduled before the Labor, Operations, and Technology Committee (LOT), according to Mike Alvine (296-0350), a staffer with the Committee. The meeting starts at 9:30, but there will be another briefing before the Part 150 that will probably last about 45 minutes, according to Mr Alvine.

Action by the full Council could occur on 30 September, depending on action by the LOT committee.

The recommendations from the study were unanimously endorsed by the Study Advisory Committee, were fully supported by Airport management and by the County Executive. Seattle Council on Airport Affairs is strongly encouraging the County Council to accept the recommendations as well, so that they can be forwarded promptly to the FAA for its lengthy review and approval process.

Both hearings will be held in the Council’s chambers, Room 1001, 10th floor of the County Court House, Third & James, Seattle. Visitors to the Court House are subject to security inspection and searches, and Court House rules forbid bringing any sort of weapon, even pocket knives, into the building.


  • If the great wall(s) of Sea-Tac will fall down in a big earthquake…Because the Port convinced the Pollution Control Hearings Board that they didn’t need to find out.
  • How much the walls might cost…Because they were added to the plans in after the last cost estimate was done in 1999.
  • Who will pay for the walls and the runway…Because some of the airlines have said that they won’t pay, and the rest of them obviously cannot pay. The feds have only ponied up a small portion, and the Port promised that the taxpayers would not have to pick up the tab. Who then?
  • If the runway will add any capacity to Sea-Tac at all…Because the Port claims the runway will double capacity in the “benefits” half of the EIS but that it will create no capacity increase in the “impacts” half of the EIS—and won’t reconcile their opposing claims.
  • What effect of windshear from the walls might have on runway operations… Because the Port has never studied it. An all-weather runway that can’t be used in bad weather?