Coalition Against Airport Pollution

Gabreski Issues

The entire airport is located in Long Island's Pine Barrens Preserve--approximately 200 acres in the Core Area and the remaining 1,200+ acres in the Compatible Growth Area.

The airport also lies within Southampton Town's Aquifer Protection Overlay District and is therefore part of a designated Critical Environmental Area pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Aviation operations do not appear to be a "compatible use" atop the aquifer that is the sole source of our drinking water.

"Petroleum" is designated a "hazardous substance" in both State and Town law. Thousands of gallons of jet fuel and aviation gas are already being stored at Gabreski, with the potential for disastrous leaks. Spills occur during the refueling process. Fuel is routinely dumped on the ground when small quantities are drawn from aircraft tanks during pre-flight check-ups (to ensure that water has not gotten into the tanks); even if only a cup or so is discarded during these tests, that adds up to perhaps 2,500 gallons over a year in which 40-50,000 take-offs occur.

Solvents routinely used in aircraft maintenance are extremely serious groundwater pollutants.

What becomes of de-icing chemicals sprayed on planes?

A dozen or so contamination sites have already been identified at Gabreski. More than half of these are on the Air National Guard property...even though the Guard occupies less than 10% of Gabreski's total acreage. The Coalition has historically supported the ANG's life-saving mission and its retention at Gabreski as a vital community asset. However, its contribution to airport pollution gives evidence that civil aviation growth presents unacceptable risks to the fragile environment at Gabreski.

FAA demands for aviation growth do not take account of the environmental sensitivity of Gabreski's location within the Pine Barrens and the Aquifer Protection Overlay District.

The idea of an industrial park at the airport may be acceptable as a means to offset the County's operating losses at the airport. However:

Uses which have the potential to further pollute the aquifer should not be permitted except in special circumstances and only after full environmental review.

Initial reports that the park could contain a million or more square feet of buildable space suggest the plan will need to be scaled back substantially.

The limited information available indicates that current ground rents and landing fees should be increased significantly to reflect the cachet of Gabreski's "Hamptons" location.

The draft Master Plan update circulated in 2005 needs to be revised to articulate the County's intentions for Gabreski, including appropriate strategies to limit aviation growth and protect our sole-source aquifer.

No new development or construction of any kind should go forward at the airport until said Master Plan has been approved by the Suffolk County Legislature and been the subject of an Environmental Impact Statement.

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Coalition Against Airport Pollution
P.O. Box # 121 * Westhampton Beach, New York 11978 *