Opinion: The PDA has not earned trust in the fixed-based operator issue
Why many are concerned about Million Air’s proposed construction site
(Editor’s note: The following is a response to the article, “The rest of the story: Pease airport needs a second FBO,” which was posted March 1 on NHBR.com and appears elsewhere on these pages this issue.)
“Now for the rest of the story on Pease Fixed Base Operator fight.” There are only three problems with this article. The “rest” is missing, the story is incomplete, and this is not a fight! The authors want Seacoast residents to accept their opinion, but they have ignored questions around negative environmental impacts. They do not even use the word “wetlands.”
For months, Seacoast citizens, elected officials and hydrologists have attended hearings and voiced specific concerns about the Million Air‘s choice of a construction site dangerously close to wetlands. These are highly sensitive wetlands that are connected to local waterways and active drinking water wells. The No. 1 question – why not move the FBO facilities to another AVAILABLE site at Pease that does not pose the same risks?
Never, in our efforts to prevent the wetlands from being disturbed, and thereby protect drinking water, did we say that a second FBO is not welcome. On the contrary, we have always been and are a pro-competition group who welcome new business for Pease and the Seacoast generally. Seacoast citizens who have voiced their concerns regarding Million Air’s choice of construction at a wetlands-sensitive site have no economic interests, unlike Million Air. We will always confront challenges to our health, our drinking water, the wetlands, wildlife, and the environment.
We remain concerned that the engineering firm, Hoyle Tanner & Associates, hired by Million Air to create the plan, is the same firm used by the PDA itself to review such proposals. This is a frustrating and questionable conflict of interest. How can the PDA allow this to happen? Despite our continued questions, we have received a deafening silence.
We should remember that Pease Airport is a Superfund site listed on the EPA’s National Priority List (NPL). The EPA describes the NPL list as “primarily an information resource that identifies sites that warrant cleanup. It is a list of the worst hazardous waste sites identified by Superfund.”
The EPA also provides the following information: “EPA issued an Administrative Order under the Safe Drinking Water Act which requires the design and construction of two treatment systems [at Pease airport] to address groundwater contamination that continues to threaten drinking water supplies while also expediting the investigation and cleanup of these emerging contaminants in the aquifer.”
Wetlands are called “wetlands” for a reason. Water accumulates in wetlands and migrates over and under the surface. Disturbing the soil, changing the elevation contour, or adding buildings or roads to wetlands will cause the water mitigation patterns to change. In the case of Pease airport, there are contaminants in the soil in several areas. If underground or surface water migrates through these contaminated areas, the contaminants will be delivered to the ultimate destination of the migrating water – wells, an aquifer, North Mill Pond, Great Bay, etc. Past clean-up and mitigation do not eliminate the risk from future actions.
In their article, former PDA Executive Director George Bald and Tom Sedoric write, “The reality of the efforts to keep another FBO from operating at PDA has little to do with water quality because the PDA is known for its high standards in protecting the environment.”
The PDA’ s concern for water quality and preserving the environment around Pease is certainly not evident from the proceedings thus far. The PDA has NOT earned our trust. The solution is simple: hire an independent environmental firm for a full review of the environmental issues raised by Million Air’s proposal. Better yet, move the Million Air site to one of the three alternative locations that avoid the environmental risks. We hope the PDA Board will look at this matter objectively and account for the health, safety, and community well-being of those who live and work in and around Pease.
This letter was submitted by: Dania Seiglie, Rye; Dudley Dudley, Durham; Pete Carey and Mary-Jo Monusky, Portsmouth; and
Jane Man, Greenland.