xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Maryland can't use noise data to sue FAA

An arriving Southwest Airlines airplane approaches Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to land.
An arriving Southwest Airlines airplane approaches Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to land.(Paul W. Gillespie / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

When Attorney General Brian Frosh sues the FAA over NextGen noise, he won't be able to use noise exposures as a legal argument ("Hogan directs Frosh to sue FAA over BWI noise," Sept. 12). The FAA sets 65 decibels as a legal noise exposure for areas outside of noise zones. However, the Maryland Aviation Administration for at least five years has had no working noise monitoring system. As of March, they have only five out of an original 23 working noise monitors. This is in violation of at least two state laws. They have published no noise data in their Quarterly Noise Reports since the third quarter of 2012; planning for NextGen started in 2011. With no scientifically reliable and comprehensive noise data, the MAA has no idea where the real noise zones are around BWI.

I discovered this after a series of Public Information Act requests that I submitted last spring. The MAA tried to hide this information from me by denying that noise data is in the public interest, and by attempting to charge me over $1,300 in fees for the information that I requested. Thankfully, Sen. Chris Van Hollen's office intervened, and the MAA published some scanty and probably spurious noise data on their website in April. Since then, nothing.

Advertisement

The MAA's noise complaint data will be equally useless in a lawsuit. The online complaint form asks for a contact address but idiotically fails to ask the location of the complainant when they heard the noise. Obviously, we hear the planes at work, when we are out shopping, and so on, not just while at home. This makes the poorly designed map of complaint locations presented at the June BWI Roundtable meeting useless. At that same meeting, the MAA's Ellen Sample, Director of Noise, stated that during the first three weeks of that month alone, they received over 900 noise complaints. They deleted that information from the minutes before uploading to their website. They have not published any noise complaint data for 2017.

With the present quality of employees at the MAA and their propensity to hide and alter pubic records, none of this is going to improve in the future. The Request for Proposal for their new noise monitoring system, which might be complete in a year and a half, reveals the same old same old: no monitors up to a 25 mile radius of noise exposure around BWI, in places now affected by NextGen noise such as in West Columbia, Catonsville, or Annapolis. There will, however be monitors located where there are no flightpaths. Perhaps this is a strategy to lower their decibel level on any noise reports that may or not be published in the future.

Barbara Deckert, Elkridge

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement