By John Lynds
Following a poorly attended community meeting hosted by Massport last Wednesday at the Mario Umana Academy regarding the expansion of Terminal E and its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), local environmentalist and elected officials immediately called on Massport to extend the public comment period.
Massport is currently 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 8 million international passengers by 2022.
Residents and elected officials argued that at the time of last week’s meeting the community would only have 11 days to digest the 1,131 page Terminal E EIR document and make comments.
“I’m getting a little fired up about the faulty Massport and Terminal E Expansion Environmental Review and community participation process,” said local environmentalists Magdalena Ayed. “Massport’s Terminal E Expansion was submitted by Massport to the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) on July 15, 2016–in the middle of summer nonetheless–Then the EIR report was published on July 20, 2016 by the EEA on their online newsletter called the Environmental Monitor. But how many East Bostonians receive this online newsletter? One percent of the population? Perhaps five percent of the population?”
Ayed said Massport put a big advertisement sometime in July saying they submitted the DEIR to the EEA and the Federal Aviation Administration and announced a meeting at the Umana for Wednesday, August 10.
“If folks didn’t have ample time to be aware of and read the 1,000 plus page report nor the technical means and knowledge to understand it, how could they come prepared to ask questions and understand the impacts of the expansion?”, she asked.
With community activists putting public pressure on Massort, Mayor Martin Walsh, Sen. Joe Boncore, Rep. Adrian Madaro and City Councilor Sal LaMattina joined the chorus of voices asking for the public comment period to be extended.
Massport agreed Monday to extend the public comment period by 21 days, but some are still questioning if it is still enough and have further demands regarding the Terminal E proposed project.
“Massport is attempting to pull off a massive airport expansion, increasing airport noise and pollution dramatically over our heads,” said Chris Marchi of AirInc., the neighborhood’s watchdog group that oversees mitigation for Logan impacts on the community. “Logan has been proven to cause massive increases in childhood Asthma and COPD, yet Massport wants to increase passengers at Logan an additional 7 to 8 million over the next 10 years using a series of expansions in international flights into Terminal E. Massport says they need to do it for the economy, but they are not considering the costs of our health.”
In a letter to Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, AirInc. is encouraging the community to demand the EIR be dramatically shortened, more clearly organized and simplified and that the comment period be extended more than the 21 days Massport has agreed to in order to allow for public review as well as a series of public meetings between and among resident, agency and political stakeholders.
“The revised DEIR should be no longer than 10 – 20 pages in length, available in English and Spanish languages at a minimum and written in easily understandable languages without confusing technical terminology,” the letter to Secretary Beaton reads. “Even with these accommodations, our community will need an extended opportunity of at least 180 days so that interested residents may confer with technical consultants in the airport management and environmental health and engineering fields in order to understand whether Massport has sufficiently addressed the impacts of the Terminal E Modernization Project, which combined with the Terminal E Expansion and other airport expansions will in crease air pollution dramatically.”
A map of Massport’s Terminal E expansion plans.