Town Sues Massport over Environmental Report on Proposed Runway at Logan Airport

OCTOBER 17, 2001

The town of Hull, in a lawsuit aimed at blocking construction of a new runway at Logan Airport, has accused the Massachusetts Port Authority of lying to state environmental officials about the impact of the proposed expansion. Hull, which is concerned a new runway will triple air traffic over the town, filed the suit in Plymouth Superior Court yesterday. Hingham and Revere have joined in the action.

"We allege they have taken steps intended to deceive legislators, the public and air travelers, all in the name of expanding the airport," said William Golden, Hull's lawyer.

The lawsuit charges Massport executive director Virginia Buckingham with submitting false and deceptive information for a review by Environmental Affairs Secretary Robert Durand. Durand gave the go-ahead for the runway in June.

The town alleges Massport lied about probable air pollution that would be caused by a new runway, underestimated noise, and failed to disclose the number of regional jets that wouldn't be able to land on the runway because it would be too short.

"This has been the most thoroughly analyzed runway project ever," said Jose Juves, Massport spokesman. "Much of the analysis has been confirmed by community consultants." A single Massport employee has continued to work with the Federal Aviation Administration on approving a final environmental review before the $100 million runway can be built, according to Juves. "Right now, Massport doesn't have the time, resources, or inclination to focus on this project," Juves said.

He defended the proposed runway as a vital airfield improvement that at some point needs to be constructed to fix Logan, which the FAA called the fourth most delay-prone airport in the United States earlier this year.

Though Buckingham had said the runway project was on hold after the Sept. 11 attacks, Golden learned Massport had urged the FAA to go ahead with its environmental review. "Massport does one thing publicly and does another thing privately," Golden said. "It is so ingrained in the culture of Massport."

Hull's lawsuit asks the court to order Massport to withdraw and refile the runway project's environmental impact statement based on updated and accurate data.

As many as 12 cities and towns have pledged initial financial support to fight the runway in this and other lawsuits, Golden said. The City of Boston has hired a law firm to fight Massport's efforts to get an injunction against the runway lifted. That would be the last hurdle before runway construction can begin.

Source: Boston Globe, Associated Press