Reginald C. Matthews
Federal Aviation Administration
ATA – 400
Re: Petition for review – Aeronautical Study 2002 – AEA – 1064-OE
Dear Mr. Matthews,
The Alliance For A Clean Environment requests that you consider this letter as an addition to our petition for review of Mr. Merritt’s inexplicable December, 2002, decision of “No Hazard to Air Safety”, concerning the vertical expansion of the Eastern Expansion of the Pottstown Landfill.
It wasn’t until
ACE would also like to remind you of a Memorandum of Understanding, spearheaded by the FAA, and negotiated among several federal agencies (including Transportation, Defense, and Interior Department, as well as the
We urge you, Mr. Matthews, to demand respect for and compliance with all FAA Safety Standards and Regulations. If we allow FAA safety standards to be ignored, why do we have them? For the last four
For the sake of the liability risk for the Borough of Pottstown, which owns the Pottstown Airport, the safety and liability risk to all the pilots who use the airport, the safety of all the nearby businesses (including their customers and employees), and the safety of the thousands of children who attend 29 schools and day cares within three miles of the Pottstown Landfill and Airport, and the tens of thousands of residents living within three miles, PLEASE do not allow FAA safety regulations to be ignored, compromising public safety.
ACE would like to first call your attention to relevant information from the
Zoning Appeal against
Testimony of Norman Douglas Lamar Jr.
Mr. Lamar is an Aviation Specialist, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aviation. As a Safety Inspector, he does airport safety inspections under contract with the FAA.
Mr. Lamar stated about the Eastern Expansion itself, “The height would be a HAZARD if it penetrated the PART 77 Surfaces.” Mr. Lamar agreed that “even a church or a school should not be put in an approach zone or immediately under the runway approach to an airport.” “Only low height, low density building structures which do not create any hazards would be acceptable. However, even housing presents a safety hazard in the approach area to an airport.”
ACE QUESTION -
Why would FAA’s Mr. Merritt determine No Hazard, from the proposed 99 foot vertical expansion of garbage, on top of the Eastern Expansion. FAA obviously knew the Eastern Expansion already violates PART 77 Surfaces, making the Eastern Expansion a known HAZARD since 1998? Total penetration of the PART 77 Surfaces, after the 99 foot vertical expansion, would be 120 feet. How could any FAA employee claim a garbage structure of this height would not be a hazard?
April 18, 1996 a letter was sent to Pottstown Landfill’s Gary Von Stetina from the PA Bureau of Aviation which stated “During the Bureau of Aviation’s annual inspection of the Pottstown Municipal Airport, our inspector reported the possibility of encroachment into the horizontal and/or conical surface area, as defined by FAR Part 77.” Signed by Dennis Hamsher, Bureau of Aviation Policy Manager. This letter was sent prior to construction of the Eastern Expansion.
July 22, 1994 – Waste Management asked the Bureau of Aviation if any portion of the expansion area exceeded the requirements of F-A-R, Part 77
September 28, Waste Management requested guidance with respect to how high things can go.
WHAT HAPPENED? Even though F-A-R, Part 77 HEIGHT limits were exceeded by the Eastern Expansion itself, and FAA objected, PA DEP issued permits and FAA did nothing. Now FAA’s Mr. Merritt determined NO Hazard for this new proposal to build an even higher garbage obstruction of 99 feet, on top of the Eastern Expansion, which violated FAR Part 77 and to which FAA objected to in the first place. This irresponsible and illogical decision by Mr. Merritt needs to be overturned and FAA needs to object to this obvious hazard to air safety.
Mr. Lamar stated “I’m concerned with both airplane and public safety equally. Airplanes go somewhere when they break.”
ACE Comment –
Mr. Lamar obviously recognizes that the children and all residents living in the heavily populated area around the airport and the landfill, as well as the business nearby are all at risk from Pottstown Landfill expansions, only about one mile from the Pottstown Airport.
Federal Aviation Order Number 5200 , 5-A is an FAA Order which sets the limitations for landfills in the proximity of airports. The Airport’s District Office in Harrisburg is an FAA office which says that a landfill should not be within the limitations set forth in FAA Order Number 5200, 5-A.
FAA Orders and Advisory circulars are defined as those procedures that are acceptable to the Secretary of Transportation, for interpretation of the Federal Aviation Regulations, for compliance with Federal Aviation requirements. Mr. Lamar stated, “If you are not doing what the Order says, then you’re not in compliance with the Regulations.”
“For piston engine aircraft – Airports serving piston engine aircrafts should not have a landfill within 5,000 feet of the nearest point of the nearest runway.”
Proximity of the nearest point of the
Mr. Lamar under oath stated, “The Airport’s Division, Certification, Safety, and standards branch of the FAA had thrice reviewed expansions of the Pottstown Landfill, and on each occasion stated that the expansions were, and are, incompatible with applicable federal guidelines for air safety as set forth in Administrative Order 5200, 5-Alpha.”
DEP was in conflict with an FAA Advisory Regulation issued in 1990.
Mr. Lamar stated that contemporaneous regulations need be applied. “The basis for the 5,000 foot setback in the FAA Order 5,200, 5-A is the creation of a bird strike hazard. Landfills attract birds. Birds are hazardous to airplanes. Birds hitting planes or planes hitting birds cause severe damage to airplanes.”
ACE Comment -
Obviously, Mr. Merritt’s determination of no hazard, is not in compliance with the Regulations. Even the original Eastern Expansion was not in compliance with FAA Regulations.
Ø This is about public, pilot, and airport safety as it relate to expansions of the Pottstown Landfill.
We have Federal and State Guidelines, Regulations, and Orders which relate to safety because public health, safety, and morals, relating to airports are entirely relevant, yet have now even been ignored by Mr. Merritt of the FAA. If FAA won’t abide by, and enforce, its own Airport and Air Safety Standards, who can airport owners and the public turn to when world wide landfill owners threaten their safety?
The point is, airport safety is primarily the responsibility of the FAA. We need to look to the FAA to protect the public. Neither the township, nor DEP is willing to take a stand to protect the public concerning airport safety, but FAA should be willing to take that stand and fight for it. The least FAA could do is uphold and enforce its own Safety Standards and Regulations concerning airports and air safety.
West Pottsgrove did not address FAA, Part 77 in its Township Zoning Ordinance, through four FAA objections to landfill expansions. There is something wrong when safety regulations are ignored by everyone for the profits of a world-wide polluting industry.
6-E, Part 139, Airports provides for additional inspections. And that is only for airports that cannot be closed. So bird mitigation efforts or inspections do not apply to the
Mr. Lamar was asked - Does the position of the landfill have any relevance to the operation of aircrafts approaching or taking off from the
Mr. Lamar’s answer was “It’s (the Eastern Expansion of the
ACE Questions - Have traffic patterns really been changed to allow garbage to be dumped next door to the
December 1, 1994 – Letter from Vincent Cimino, FAA Airport Certification/Safety Inspector and Safety Program Officer to Pottstown Landfill’s Sr. Environmental Engineer, Gary Von Stetina. Vincent Cimino wrote “FAA Eastern Region completed a coordinated review of the proposed construction or alteration of the
The distance requirements from the
Obstruction Evaluation Study NO.94-AEA-1763-OE for
FAR 77.13 (a) (2) – Notice Required – EXCEEDS ALLOWABLE HEIGHT
ACTION: Study of Proposed Landfill Expansion No. 94-AEA-1763-OE
From: Manager, Air Traffic Division, AEA-500
We note the Airports Division’s objection to the proposed expansion of the existing landfill located .86 nautical miles (NM) north east of the
Obstruction 86 - Missed Approach – Refer to attachment - list of (7) “may exceed” and (7) “may become” for Case: 941763
The weight of evidence of risk from the above could be used to overturn Mr. Merritt’s December, 2002 determination. However, inexplicably, Mr. Merritt’s determination ignores even greater risks posed by Pottstown Landfill’s proposed 99 foot vertical expansion over 31 acres of the Eastern Expansion of the Pottstown Landfill. Mr. Merritt made an inexcusable error in judgment to ignore FAA safety regulations and determine no hazard from such a large unnecessary permanent vertical obstruction of garbage.
FAA, Eastern Region Airports Division, Lead Inspector
Environmental Hearing Board Docket No. 95-246-MG
Fontaine and Scott,
Vincent Cimino’s Affidavit provides 3 very important reasons to overturn Mr. Merritt’s December, 2002. This Affidavit provides the proof that Mr. Merritt ignored FAA Safety Regulations, previously upheld four times by FAA.
This Affidavit confirms that the FAA Airports Division, Certification Safety and Standards branch, reviewed and upheld its federal guidelines for air safety, according to FAA Administrative Order 5200.5A, on EACH of THREE Pottstown Landfill expansions, PRIOR to the proposal for the Eastern Expansion. It is illogical and unacceptable for Mr. Merritt to now ignore FAA guidelines for air safety, concerning the current proposed Pottstown Landfill vertical expansion to be built over the Eastern Expansion. This obviously presents even greater risks to public, pilot, and airport safety.
3. “FAA remains unalterably opposed to the latest (4th) proposed expansion of the landfill that is, the Eastern Expansion.
It is inconceivable that FAA’s Mr. Merritt did not remain unalterably opposed to this 5th
· Mr. Cimino’s September 12, 1996 affidavit proves that FAA’s Airports Division, Certification Safety and Standards branch was originally opposed to the Eastern Expansion because, as with 3 previous Pottstown Landfill expansions, it was found to be incompatible with applicable federal guidelines for air safety according to FAA’s Administrative Order 5200.5A.
· May 6, 2002, Norman Lamar, Jr. signed a formal objection on behalf of the PA Bureau of Aviation, opposing Waste Management’s proposal for Pottstown Landfill’s 99 foot vertical expansion over the Eastern Expansion, which already violated the distance safety standards. He states, “This proposed landfill will exceed the limit of FAR PART 77.23 (a)(5) / 77.25(b) in relation to the
As ordinary citizens concerned for public safety, it is incomprehensible that any FAA employee would use Waste Management’s bought and paid for smoke and mirrors aeronautical studies, to ignore not only one of FAA’s safety standards, but two, and not by a small amount, but by large amounts. It was clearly stated that FAA attempted a negotiation with Waste Management. Of course Waste Management refused. Waste Management told FAA its filed height was required to meet planned usage. Meeting planned usage for garbage is not a legitimate reason to ignore safety standards. It is inconceivable that FAA would negotiate with a garbage company, concerning public safety, and then actually back down, ignoring FAA’s own airport and air safety standards, while abandoning public safety. Mr. Merritt’s determination of NO Hazard, clearly ignores the facts and jeopardizes safety for the interests of the waste industry. We object! We urge FAA to do the right thing on behalf of public safety – uphold two of FAA’s own safety standards, as FAA did four times previously, concerning
To FAA Bill Merritt
Mr. Lamar wrote “The Pennsylvania Bureau of Aviation objects to he proposal covered by the 02-AEA-1064-OE.” “Given the information supplied by the proponent this proposal ALREADY exceeds the FAR Part 77 conical and Horizontal surfaces in relation to
This e-mail proves that before Mr. Merritt even began his study, he was informed by Mr. Lamar on
2. As part of Mr. Merritt’s determination of no hazard in December, 2002, an FAA document clearly states that PART 77 OBSTRUCTION STANDARDS ARE EXCEEDED: Section 77.23 (a)(5) Airport Surfaces by penetrating Section 77.25 (b) (Conical Surfaces) by 120 feet (existing landfill, esceeds) – a height that exceeds a takeoff or landing area of an airport, as applied to N47.
Please explain the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PA BUREAU OF AVIATION’S DETERMINATION OF A 136 FOOT OBSTRUCTION VIOLATION, AND MR. MERRITT’S DETERMINATION OF A 120 FOOT OBSTRUCTION VIOLATION, both created by the proposed 99 foot vertical expansion, over Pottstown Landfill’s Eastern Expansion.
sent a confirmation to Congressman Holden, telling him that FAA reviewed Pottstown Landfill expansion on THREE separate previous proposals and provided a negative response on each occasion in the following studies: Aeronautical Study 89-AEA-1718-OE, 91-AEA1646-OE, and 94-AEA-a763-OE. She wrote, “The FAA, Eastern Region, Airports Division, evaluated the landfill proposal (Eastern Expansion) and found it to be incompatible with the safety of operations at the
This letter is additional confirmation that FAA has opposed 4 separate previous Pottstown Landfill expansions, including the Eastern Expansion, on top of which Waste Management plans to put its currently proposed 99 foot vertical expansion. Mr. Merritt’s conclusion on behalf of FAA, that this 5th, 99 foot vertical expansion presents no hazard, defies all logic and needs to be overturned.
Letter to Congressman Holden – She stated “Throughout the review process the FAA response has been consistent. FAA has provided our recommendation to PA D.E.P. not to issue such permits based on aviation safety concerns.”
While DEP ignored this recommendation, if an air disaster occurred due to the
Private Use Airports
It was documented on
Question: Did Mr. Merritt send the owners of these airports public notification letters from FAA, to advise them of their opportunity to comment on air safety concerns from Pottstown Landfill’s 99 foot high vertical expansion of garbage, in close proximity to their airports?
FOIA records confirm this airport is 4.96 miles from the
Question: Did Mr. Merritt send an FAA public notification to the
Airport Facility Directory – Page 222
Under the section for the
· Does anyone actually believe there is any way to stop birds and animals from being attracted to, and following the smells, that would come with expansion and 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 lbs. of garbage, being transported and dumped at the Pottstown Landfill every day? Does anyone actually believe that the airport or landfill will pay wages for people to watch for, and scare away, birds or animals 24 hours a day, which will inevitably be in the vicinity of an open landfill? These birds and animals will not give up. Waste Management’s study and wildlife hazard management plan is nothing more than glorified smoke and mirrors, for the sole purpose of getting landfill expansion. Most unbiased, clear thinking individuals would see this is in no way realistic.
· Waste Management’s study claiming the danger is gone or remediated needs to be evaluated with real common sense and logic. Even though Waste Management’s intake of waste has been down to a trickle for quite some time, because the Eastern Expansion has almost reached capacity, LARGE GROUPS of sea gulls have been seen congregating in the shopping center next to the airport, just recently. Photos have been taken. The full flow of 4,000 to 6,000 TONS of garbage coming to the landfill EVERY DAY would return with expansion. There is no way to stop increasing numbers of gulls, other birds, and animals from following the smells of garbage.
· The landfill has only about 20 employees, who mostly work during the day. If the expansion permit is issued they will handle 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 pounds of garbage every day. Will they really have time to stand around watching for birds and animals all day, taking time to shoot guns to scare these birds and animals? Pottstown Landfill employees may now actually have even far greater demands on their time, as they will be required to monitor about 300 trucks per day, in a time consuming cumbersome process, for radioactive wastes. Is Waste Management going to hire people to stand around the perimeter, specifically to be on bird control? Somehow we doubt that.
This letter clearly shows that FAA met and negotiated with Waste Management. In the end FAA ignored public safety standards, jeopardizing an entire community, not only in safety, but also liability issues. This sets a dangerous precedent. FAA safety rules and standards have been put in place to protect the public and should not be abandoned through compromises of any kind, for any reason.
1. FAA negotiated to allow a base line level of birds, saying an increase of 10% would shut down the facility until the base level or lower number is reestablished. This whole thing is perfectly ridiculous. How can these numbers be realistically counted or verified? Birds follow garbage. It only takes one bird to cause a disaster. After expansion permit would be issued, who would actually be counting? Would FAA send inspectors to count birds all day, every day, to verify numbers? Surely, FAA is not planning to take Waste Management’s word for it.
2. FAA has settled for wildlife management techniques to be used by the landfill and airport, that will “MINIMIZE NOT EMIMINATE” WILDLIFE ATTRACTANTS AT BOTH LOCATIONS. FAA has, in essence, condoned the building of a permanent unnecessary 120 foot obstruction into air space, which will result in 4,000 to 6,000 TONS of garbage transported and dumped about a mile from the airport every day, that will inevitably attract wildlife. FAA has, in essence, condoned this inevitable wildlife attraction, too close to the Pottstown Airport, and then settled for an unprotective promise to only MINIMIZE, NOT EMILINATE, the risk. This is shameful.
3. The entire WILDLIFE HAZARD MANAGEMENT PLAN is an unacceptable approach, to an unnecessary hazardous threat, which should never be permitted to happen in the first place. If FAA abided by its own Safety Standards, this unrealistic hazards management plan would not be necessary. The hazardous threat should not be permitted in the first place. It can and should be AVOIDED, NOT MANAGED.
4. Mr. Cimino says, “The aviation safety of operations, personnel and equipment is a shared concern in public safety, for users of the airport, owner/operator, and the FAA. This shared concern in public safety for users of the airport is also a position of LIABILITY THAT OTHER PUBLIC AGENCIES SHOULD CONSIDER IN DETERMINING THEIR ACTIONS.”
There is something inherently wrong with an FAA compromise, which in essence condones the building of a 99 foot obstruction of garbage, only a mile from the airport, which obviously creates a huge liability risk for a disaster, to Pottstown Borough, the owners of the airport, and pilots, the users of the airport.
The landfill, which creates the hazardous risk, is likely not held responsible for the liability of disasters. This liability would likely become the responsibility of the owners of the airport and its users. This jeopardizes all the money the Borough of Pottstown put into this airport, as well as public grant money FAA put into this airport.
FAA abandoned financial justice and liability, as well as public safety. Waste Management gets the profit from this project, but not the risk of liability. What’s wrong with this picture?
Waste Management Lawyers
The PA Bureau of Aviation objection to air space obstruction under FAA safety standards was stamped
In closing, unless FAA reverses Mr. Merritt’s determination of No Hazard, ACE is requesting a full and complete response to each and every concern and question in this letter, as well as all concerns and questions from all of our previous letters to all FAA employees.
Thank you for your time and consideration to our vast, but valid, list of issues and concerns on behalf of public safety and justice.
ACE Vice President
Cc: Senator Specter
Senator John Rafferty
P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464
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