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San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport Releases Supplemental Environmental Impact Report On Airport Development Program

San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport Releases Supplemental Environmental Impact Report On Airport Development Program

Press Releases
September 29th, 2003

Contact: Jo Murray, 510-238-8430, 510-435-2006 (cell)


Sept. 29, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. — San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport today released the supplemental environmental impact report for its airport development program, showing that there will be no significant increase in nighttime sleep disturbance or in cancer risks from aviation sources.

The report is part of the environmental clearance for the $1.6 billion airport development program that was approved in 1997 and assesses the impact of revisions to the program since that time. The program includes construction of expanded terminal facilities, a parking garage for approximately 6,000 vehicles and support facilities. Some work has already begun under prior environmental documents.

Originally designed for approximately 8 million passengers annually, San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport last year had 12.7 million passengers. The new facilities are designed to accommodate an anticipated 13.8 million passengers and 1 million tons of cargo annually.

This additional report is the result of a court judgment in 2001 that asked San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport to reassess the impact of its development program on nighttime noise, air quality as it relates to human health risk, and the Western burrowing owl, a “species of special concern” under California law.

In order to review all possible contingencies, the report assesses the environmental impact even if the airport were to attract 22.4 million passengers and 2.1 million tons of cargo annually. However, the airport does not anticipate this much growth.

Among the major findings of the report are the following:

* There will be no substantial increase in sleep disturbance.

* By 2010, as airlines convert to quieter engines, there will be fewer flights at the loudest noise levels. (The loudest noise levels are 85 and 90 decibels, using what is known as the “sound exposure level” method of measurement. This takes into account both the loudness and the length of a noise event and is a standard method of measuring aircraft noise. The peak noise, using conventional methods of measurement, is typically about 10 decibels lower than the SEL measurement.)

* The airport’s sound insulation program for homes near the airport has been effective in reducing interior noise levels.

* The increased cancer risk is less than 10 in 1 million, and with mitigation it will be lower than the current risk. This is because ground service equipment will be converted to cleaner, alternative fuels.

* The only short-term health effect that may occur is eye-watering in very sensitive people during the worst combination of weather conditions and aircraft operations that is likely to occur. Eye-watering can be caused by exposure to acrolein, found in aircraft engine exhaust. Even under the worst possible conditions, the concentration of acrolein due to the Airport Development Program will be less than half the concentration known to cause eye-watering and less than is normally found in second-hand smoke.

* The Port has complied with all of the California Department of Fish & Game's requirements for mitigation of effects to the burrowing owl.

The program is being financed through municipal bonds issued by the Port of Oakland, passenger facility charges levied on airline tickets, airline fees and federal airport improvement funds. It is expected to generate more than 4,000 new construction- and aviation-related jobs and generate nearly $2 billion in business revenue, $600 million in personal income and $76 million in additional annual state and local tax revenues.

“We are very pleased with the findings of the report,” said Steven J. Grossman, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland. “We are committed to the highest standard of environmental stewardship and to providing the best available information on noise and air quality impacts to the public. It shows that our environmental programs are working.”

Copies of the supplemental environmental impact report are available on the Web, at the Port of Oakland at 530 Water Street, and at selected libraries (a list is on the Web site) in Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Hayward and San Leandro. A copy may also be obtained in book or compact disc (CD) format at the Port Building, or will be mailed by telephone arrangement. The first copy is free, and subsequent copies will be for sale for the cost of production and postage.

For additional information, call 510-627-1423. To obtain a copy of the report, or to make an appointment to review documents at the Port’s offices, people may call 510-627-1174.

There will be a public meeting to receive comments on the document at the Port of Oakland on Thursday, Oct. 23, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Comments also may be made in writing during a 45-day period, ending Nov. 12.

San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport has served the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 75 years and is responsible for $4.5 billion in economic activity annually in the San Francisco Bay Area, generating over 70,000 jobs for the region. Oakland International is a revenue division of the Port of Oakland, an independent department of the City of Oakland, and served 12.7 million passengers and handled more than 600,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2002, making it the second fastest growing major airport in the nation.

The airport has over 200 flights a day on 12 domestic and international carriers to 41 nonstop destinations, including Atlanta, the Hawaiian Islands, the New York area, Washington, D.C., and Mexico and seasonal service to the Azores (Portugal) and Costa Rica.

Oakland International consistently has the fewest weather-related flight delays in the Bay Area. Since 1992, the airport and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) have jointly operated a dedicated shuttle bus that meets every BART system train at the nearby Coliseum station. As of Aug. 24, all on-airport rental car companies have been relocated to a new $14 million facility located at 7600 Earhart Road. A common-use shuttle bus transports rental car customers between the rental car center and the terminals every 10 minutes. Travelers are reminded that the 98th Avenue corridor is open to both inbound and outbound traffic creating a fast, direct route to and from Interstate 880.