Wildlife Hazard Assessments and Off-Airport Hazards to Navigable Airspace at Heart of Lawsuit

Today Kenneth D. Paskar and the Friends of LaGuardia Airport, Inc. filed their Opening Brief in their Petition for Review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision that the City of New York’s construction of a solid waste Marine Transfer Station a mere 2,200 feet from the end of one of the busiest runways in the world would not attract birds and create a hazard to aircraft and passengers at LaGuardia Airport. This is one of the many steps that Mr. Paskar and the Friends of LaGuardia Airport, Inc. have taken to assure that crew and passengers arriving and departing LaGuardia Airport are safe and to ensure that the congestion at the airport will diminish in the future.

This showdown between the safety of flight into LaGuardia and waste disposal began when the City of New York ill-advisedly decided to build the North Shore Marine Transfer Station (NSMTS) less than a 1/2 mile from the end of Runway 31 at LaGuardia Airport. As Paskar showed in his brief, although the Marine Transfer Station is designed to be “fully enclosed,” recent FAA guidance has shown that the design of a solid waste transfer station has little or no bearing on the attractiveness of solid waste stations to birds and other wildlife that pose significant hazards to aircraft arriving and departing from LaGuardia. Moreover, the brief continues, the NSMTS is squarely within the “Runway Protection Zone” for Runway 31, and FAA rules clearly state that a solid waste transfer station is an “incompatible land use” in the Runway Protection Zone.

In addition, the NSMTS will block further development of “precision approach” for Runway 31, thereby limiting the utility of the Runway 31 during inclement weather. Because of the height and the wildlife hazards presented by the NSMTS, a precision approach will now not be possible without the removal of the NSMTS. This will represent a significant loss to airport, to New York and to FAA. However, it seems that political expediency has won, for the time being at least, won out over safety and economic benefit.

News Articles:

  1. “No Trash, No Crash,” James E. Hall, Op-Ed Contributor, New York Times, June 27, 2011.
  2. “FAA Shrunk Buffer Around LaGuardia Runway for Bird-Attracting Trash Facility,” Bill Sanderson, New York Post, August 15, 2011.
  3. “FAA Denies Runway Zone at LaGuardia Shortened,” Allan Chernoff, CNN, August 15, 2011.
  4. “Sullenberger Pans Grabage Station Near LaGuadia,” CBS/AP, August 16, 2011.
  5. “NYC Defends Trash Plant Near LaGuardia Airport,” Chris Hawley, Associated Press, August 16, 2011.
  6. “Group Wants FAA to Revisit College Point Transfer Station,” Joe Anuta, Times Ledger, December 22, 2011.
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