The largest contributor
to climate deterioration
on the East End is
East Hampton Airport.
Aircraft using KHTO generate
approximately 51.5 million lbs. of
carbon emissions annually, based
on roundtrip flights, all aircraft types,
from NYC/KHTO in 2019.
That's a very conservative estimate.
Of the 30,000 flights each year by jets large and small, helicopters, turboprops, seaplanes and small planes, many carry few passengers. On one leg of a roundtrip journey often there are no passengers. Such flights are known as "empty legs" and are very costly to the environment.
The skies were largely silent during early weeks of the pandemic in 2020 but, within a few months, charter operators were profiting handsomely as people opted to fly privately, many for the first time. At year's end, total flights in 2020 were only 15 percent fewer than in 2019. Forecasts for private aviation in the future indicate that the traffic to date is only the tip of the iceberg.
The aviation industry was the recipient of very generous handouts from the first pandemic relief package (Trump Administration) and has again benefited from the most recent relief package (Biden Administration).
NYS DEC has designated
four sites on 47 acres
of the airport
as Superfund sites.
In addition to the air pollution, fire-retardant foam used at KHTO during accidents and drills is likely responsible for seriously damaging our aquifer and poisoning hundreds of individual wells, resulting in the creation of a NY State DEC Superfund clean-up expected to take many years and with a cost of $32M and growing.
The airport sits atop a sole source aquifer which provides drinking water to the East End and beyond. Not only private water wells pull water from the aquifer, Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) also draws water from the source.
▪ Aquifer designation is one tool to protect drinking water supplies in areas with few or no alternative sources to the ground water resource and where, if contamination occurred, using an alternative source would be extremely expensive.
▪ A sole or principal source aquifer is one which supplies at least fifty percent of the drinking water consumed in the area overlying the aquifer. These areas can have no alternative drinking water source(s) which could physically, legally, and economically supply all those who depend upon the aquifer for drinking water.
For convenience, all sole or principal source aquifers are referred to as "sole source aquifers" (SSA).
Ongoing dangers to
our health and
The airport is used by a small percentage of the population, few of whom are year-round residents, all of whom could travel to the East End by less destructive means. The primary economic benefit from aviation activity goes to out-of-town operators and to the single aviation fuel business at KHTO, which pumps annually nearly one million gallons of jet and leaded fuel (avgas) at KHTO.
Airplane emissions contain a variety of air pollutants: carbon dioxide and smaller amounts of methane and nitrous oxides. Many of these particles of pollution are tiny, invisible to the eye. If they were larger or in color, people would be made far more aware of the daily dangers to their health and to the environment.
Peer-reviewed studies have concluded that it is the ultra-fine particulate matter that is the main culprit to human health from aviation emissions, since the tiny particulates can become wedged deep in the lung and possibly enter the bloodstream.
Lead is toxic to all life.
Lead is especially dangerous
to children under five years.
Of particular concern is avgas, fuel which also contains lead. Avgas is used in small piston engine planes or small helicopters.
Lead was removed from automobile fuel during the 1970s but is widely used in aviation fuel in the U.S.
More than 50 percent of the lead in the air in the United States today is from aviation emissions.
The fuel farm operated by the Town sells fuel to the single fixed-base operator (FBO) at the airport. The FBO then sells both avgas and jet fuel to users. Recent annual sales of both toxic fuels at KHTO approach 900,000 gallons per year (a little less during the pandemic).
During the first two months of 2021, sales of fuel at KHTO increased 425% over same period in 2020!
Harmful health effects
The incessant loud low-flying aircraft create noise and visual pollution, impinging on the mental well-being of thousands of Long Islanders living beneath flight paths on the East End and all the way to NYC.
▪ cardiovascular effects that may arise as a consequence of stress caused by noise;
▪ sleep disturbance, where sleep patterns are disturbed and conscious and premature awakenings may occur;
▪ noise related annoyance that can cause negative emotions;
▪ cognitive impairment in children, which can lead to a subsequent impairment in the quality of life.