October 17, 2002
Increased emissions for area?
By Barbara Forster / Correspondent
The subject of air quality for the four Hanscom Air Field communities was the issue on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Bedford Town Hall.
The presentation by Massport representatives concluded that, overall, air quality is "very good and is in compliance with all existing state and federal standards for aircraft and motor vehicles emissions."
Emissions of four pollutants - carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter - from aircraft operations have increased between 1995 and 2000.
Overall carbon monoxide levels have declined 82 percent since their peak in the 1970s, nitrogen dioxide levels are down 64 percent, ozone levels 45 percent, and levels of fine particulate matter have dropped 14 percent since the mid-1980s.
But looking ahead, the conclusion is that if more aircraft operations occur, "increases from current emission levels for the airport are to be expected."
Massport presented various charts and tables produced from models that take into account the agency's scenarios of possible aviation activity for the years 2005 and 2015. No real-time measurements were made. And therein lies the problem, argued Bedford¹s Sheldon Moll, chairman of the Hanscom Area Towns Committee, who was the moderator for the workshop.
Without measured values, said Moll, "there is no way of checking the modeling. If you don't make measurements you don't know what the numbers mean. It's just best predictable estimates based on the best models."
The meeting on air quality was one of a series of get-togethers between Massport staff and environmental consultants representing the four towns regarding an environmental review of the air field Massport has prepared for the state. Air quality is one of several topics Massport studied and analyzed.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, the towns' consultants will present their take on Massport's document from various perspectives, outlining problem areas, issues that are not covered in the report or items that are not done satisfactorily.
Three weeks later, on Thursday, Nov. 7, the state will hold a public hearing to learn what area residents have to say about the report. The public comment period ends a week later. Seven days after the comment period ends, the state will mostly likely give Massport permission to prepare the final document which the agency plans to file early in 2003.
The Basic Foundation
Massport's presentation of air quality and other subjects is based on scenarios representing the overall amount of possible future aviation activity. In the years analyzed, 2005 and 2015, each year has moderate and high growth forecasts. Aviation activity includes flight training, corporate jets, military, helicopter flights, and commercial planes.
In 2005, the scenario has between 231,004 and 246,078 total aviation operations. For 2015 the guesstimates are between 272,461 and 295,828.
In 2000, the total was 212,781; last year the number was 205,436.
The forecasts are for the Environmental Status and Planning Report that Massport is required to file every five years with MEPA, the state agency responsible for administering the Environmental Protection Act. Massport forecasts the amount of aviation activity at the field and then analyzes the effects on various environmental, historical, and cultural factors in the area.
The meeting was one of several technical workshops co-hosted by Massport and
the four Hanscom towns.
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