At the regular monthly meetings of Jeffries Point Neighborhood Council and Orient Heights Neighborhood Council and also a special Massport sponsored meeting that included representatives from the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration, Massport laid out the reasons for expanding Terminal E by constructing three gates, previously permitted as part of the International Gateway/West Concourse Project, but were never built.
Massport is also looking to add an additional two to four new gates to accommodate the nearly eight million more international passengers they are projecting will use Logan by 2022.
Massport has argued the project will be confined to the current airport footprint and is expected to improve air quality. Masport official Jose Masso, Massport’s director of community relations, said improving the terminal’s connection to the Airport MBTA station would encourage the use of public transit as well as decrease the number of aircraft waiting for a gate to become available while its engines continue to run. This would eliminate remote parking, in which planes use an auxiliary power unit and passengers are bused to and from the terminal.
“Massport is always searching for ways the community that lives next to a major airport can benefit from the relationship,’’ said Masso. “The Terminal E Modernization Project will provide qualitative benefits to our neighbors by reducing aircraft noise and pollution. Massport will continue to work with the community and its elected representatives to address their concerns and needs.’’
However, not all are convinced. Residents have viewed the plans as further airport expansion and said Massport is actively trying to attract more international carriers to Logan.
At a recent meeting hosted by Massport, public comment centered on concerns and questions about the noise, pollution and other public health impacts of the proposed expansion.
Community residents contended that commercial jet activity was up considerably even though overall flights were down and that the larger commercial jets are louder and pollute more. Residents asked about projected pollution levels in 2030, at which point the Port Authority stated Logan would become 43 percent busier thus adding 30 percent more flights.
Community residents grew increasingly frustrated and riled as the two hour meeting continued, feeling that their questions were not being answered honestly, culminating with long time community activist Fran Riley lambasting the Port Authority for ignoring community residents’ calls to end segmented proposals that need environmental review.
Activists have long argued that Massport’s practice of filing environmental reviews on a project to project basis does not paint the entire health impact picture the projects have when added to past and future projects.
Other longtime Eastie activists like M
ary Ellen Welch have fought for years to have elected officials in the state and federal government halt Massport projects until a comprehensive study on Ultra fine particulate matter (PM) and its health impacts is completed. Ultra fine particulate matter or PMs from exhaust has been shown to cause a wide array of adverse health impacts. PM pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States and 200,000 deaths per year in Europe.