The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Finance, Development and Environment (FDE) Committee heard a staff report summarizing activities dealing with two environmental stipulation agreements (enforcement actions). MAC paid civil fines and was directed to do remedial work along with airlines and other airport entities because of excessive glycol emissions and fuel leaks.
In a letter to FDE Chair, Commissioner Tammy McGee, SMAAC related the staff report to last Fall‚s MSP environmental assessment hearing. SMAAC disagreed with the staff conclusion then that no EAW or EIS was needed for any capital project: glycol emissions and fuel leaks were known and reasonably related to, or exacerbated by, construction projects. SMAAC asked for a finding by the Hearing Officer, contrary to the MAC staff recommendation, that EAWs were needed for certain projects with this risk.
Because of specific concerns raised in the SMAAC letter, several Commissioners, including Chair McGee, asked staff for the amount of the fuel leaks fine ($125,000) and the MAC share (one-third, or $41,667); about the glycol recovery process and its efficiency, and other points. Commissioner Boivin asked for a more complete answer to the SMAAC questions by MAC staff, to be discussed at a future FDE meeting.
Chair McGee allowed SMAAC President Jim Spensley to comment, and he thanked the Committee for its attention to the corrective and remedial actions. Spensley joked that SMAAC Directors noted the Leak Detection Prevention Plan as it was entitled in the staff Memo. "We hope you meant the Leak Detection and Prevention Plan." Spensley said. "However, there is a very serious side to how MSP environmental problems are handled, and the Commission should provide for better reports, more public comments and ongoing review of these cases."
Commissioner Jack Lanners asked Spensley about comparing purchased amounts and recovered amounts of aircraft deicing fluid as suggested in the letter. Spensley replied that any plan to reduce ADF (glycol) emissions is empty if it focuses on permitted amounts in storm water effluent. He said that more glycol losses to the environment were found, in studies at other airports, as ADF transported off the airport watershed as aerosols by wind or on aircraft. "The permit applies to total annual emissions to the River." Spensley said "Reducing this part, in the face of more operations and therefore more deicing operations most years, can be done by using less glycol per operation, by limiting operations in bad weather, by recovering more used glycol, or ˆ and from the staff Memo, this may be the case ˆ by allowing more glycol to escape both the stormwater and the recovery systems."
Spensley said SMAAC welcomed more, and more open, discussion of these issues. MAC staff indicated that a "report identifying capital improvement projects that have the potential (to impact) the fuel delivery system" had been written. SMAAC asked that capital projects undertaken in 2006 and beyond be assessed more transparently in an EAW or EIS, including public comment and testimony by outside experts involved in environmental protection (rather than airport operations).