OPINION: Airport project will adversely affect neighbors

Have you ever stood near a Boeing 747 aircraft? Can you imagine one taxiing 700 feet from your home? For residents of Sand Lake, that may well be a reality after NorthLink Aviation completes its South Airpark Cargo development on the south side of Anchorage International Airport. Type 2 engines found in Boeing 747s are some of the noisiest jets in the world.

Besides the noise from these older aircraft, emissions and jet exhaust will impact bikers, skiers and walkers on their way to Kincaid Park along Raspberry Road. Is this the kind of environment we want to create for our children and families that live and recreate near Kincaid?

NorthLink, a Manhattan-based investment company, is proposing to build a cargo warehouse, deicing, fueling, and basically a gas station for the largest cargo jets that use the airport. This is a game changer for our neighborhood.

Critics ask, “How did you not realize you were buying a home near the airport?” The answer is yes, we did realize the airport was there. The lure of healthy lifestyles near a world-class park was irresistible. We did not know, however, that the airport is not a responsible neighbor.

Located directly north of Raspberry Road, 120 acres of trees will soon be cleared, leveled and covered with concrete and asphalt for cargo jets 700 feet from homes. So much for the healthy lifestyle.

We have been told “safe noise levels will be maintained” with this development, based on a flawed noise study. We learned that noise monitors were decommissioned 15 years ago. Does the airport have a social obligation to track noise from it?

Visitors and wildlife in Kincaid Park will be affected. The smell of jet fuel in the north wind will increase. A de-icing operation is planned 700 feet from the trail along Raspberry Road. EPA documents fumes from de-icing having health effects; the glycol has a sickeningly sweet chemical odor.


Some think those of us who chose to live near the airport should have expected expansion. Does that mean we should have expected the risk of exposure to noise, polluted drinking water and unhealthy fumes in the air?

Discovery of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) around NorthLink’s leased property makes residents even more concerned about impacts with real public health consequences. PFAS are the “forever chemicals” that cause various types of cancer (kidney, testicular, prostate), thyroid diseases, endocrine system disruption, and immune system suppression among other health issues. Our homes are located less than one-quarter mile from the development and dependent on drinking water wells where PFAS may be headed.

At public hearings where we have tried to voice our health fears, we have been verbally attacked. We have been accused of trying to stop the project.

“You neighbors are trying to shut down this development,” is the mantra of NorthLink and their supporters.

We are not against this development.

We want to see responsible, ethical development supported by sound science and oversight. Ramming through a development of this scale in a neighborhood so close to it is not our idea of “ethical development.” Listening to concerns and addressing them is the responsible, neighborly thing to do.

Peter Heninger and Linda Swiss are members of Alaskans for Ethical Development, a nonprofit group of concerned citizens supporting ethical development in Alaska.

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