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The Record, Friday, December 1, 2000

Teterboro neighbors hear
pollution testing options

By Lisa Goodnight, Staff Writer

Carlstadt – People who live near Teterboro Airport are entitled to know whether they’re being exposed to harmful pollution.

That was the one point agreed upon Thursday night at a meeting of the Committee for Public Health and Safety, a coalition of 12 towns near the airport.

Close to 40 people were in attendance – about half of them municipal officials. They talked of how best to determine whether planes going in and out of Teterboro are polluting their communities. Teterboro airport is one of the nation’s busiest general aviation airports.

"We as elected officials represent our communities and our constituents, and our principal concern should be their health and safety," declared Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, co-chairman of the committee.

Lonegan asked Philip Brilliant, vice president of Toms River based Environmental Evaluation Group, to talk about the nuts and bolts of doing an environmental impact study. Brilliant said an initial study to find out whether there are carcinogens in the soil could take 60 days.

Asked how the study would be able to pinpoint the source of pollution, Brilliant said: "If we can fingerprint the sample as jet fuel, we can narrow it down that it’s not coming from the highway."

Brilliant could not immediately provide a cost estimate.

Some wondered how receptive federal and state officials would be to a report showing that the airport has a negative impact on neighboring communities. Others said the study should do more than test the soil.

"I can see the blackness coming out" of the planes, said Brian Curreri, a former Carlstadt councilman. "Is there any way to track that and find out if that’s what’s on the ground?"

In the end, the committee decided it would seek out other environmental companies and compare their estimates to Brilliant’s. The group also will try to determine whether other airport studies have been done, and start petition drives in their communities to keep the airport issue at the forefront.

On Nov. 3, Hackensack Mayor John "Jack" Zisa announced that a city-sponsored petition demanding a night curfew, a new flight pattern, and funding to soundproof schools has been signed by 3,000 residents. Many complain that he airport is affecting their quality of life.

The coalition decided it would support state legislation to fund airport emissions studies and to direct the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a feasibility study to assess sources of air pollution around certain airports.

The next step is to come up with funding. The goal is to raise at least $60,000 -- $5,000 from each town. The towns are Bogota, Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Ridegefield Park, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, has said the agency is willing to work with the towns to soundproof schools and with plane manufacturers to make quieter, safer aircraft. The agency is considering doing its own environmental impact study with Rutgers University. A pro-Teterboro lobbying group has argued that the airport helps boost the state’s economy.

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