A National Football League stadium in Laurel would meet all federal, state and local air quality standards, the Redskins' environmental engineer testified yesterday.
Robert P. Newman of E. A. Engineering Science and Technology Inc. spoke at a public hearing at Meade Senior High School, now in its third week.
The Redskins are seeking a special exception allowing them to build a 78,600-seat, $160 million stadium in an industrial zone next to Laurel Race Course. They also are seeking seven variances from county codes on matters such as parking, landscaping and time limits for project completion.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other stadium opponents have cited air quality concerns to argue that the Redskins should build their new home in an urban setting, with mass transit already in place. However, Mr. Newman said the auto emissions from game-day stadium traffic "would not be detrimental to public health, safety and welfare," nor would they violate federal standards for major pollutants such as carbon monoxide and ground-level ozone, he said.
Federal standards allow 40 milligrams of carbon monoxide per cubic meter of air. Mr. Newman said the highest level that would result from stadium traffic would be 21 milligrams per cubic meter of air at a spot along Whiskey Bottom Road on the northeast corner of the stadium parking lot.
The government also regulates nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. These chemicals, which occur in vehicle exhaust, combine in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone. The Environmental Protection Agency has found the region that includes Anne Arundel County to be in "severe" noncompliance with federal standards for ground-level ozone pollution.
Mr. Newman said the stadium's impact on ozone levels would be too small to measure with the regional computer modeling used by the EPA.
In any case, he said, the worst season for ozone is summer, when sunlight is abundant, and the stadium will be used mainly in the fall and winter.
Because ozone takes as long as two days to form, he said, any ozone forming from pollutants generated in Anne Arundel County would appear as far as 100 miles downwind from the stadium.
"Somebody, somewhere, is fouling Anne Arundel County's air," mused hearing officer Robert Wilcox. "We will do it to somebody, with this."
However, he said during a break in the hearing, "My authority begins and ends in Anne Arundel County."
Other uses for the stadium site could result in more traffic and more pollution than a stadium, Mr. Newman testified. The stadium would generate 756,000 vehicle trips a year, but a 2,600-unit residential development on the site would generate almost 13.5 million trips a year, and an industrial development there could generate 3.7 million trips a year.
After the hearing, Mr. Newman said that even if the number of parking spaces at the stadium were increased from the 20,077 planned spaces to 30,000 spaces, emissions "would not be any place close" to federal limits.