Lynch makes demands from airport organization

John O'Brien Apr. 30, 2007, 2:00pm


PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Though it is unclear what will happen if it doesn't comply, the Rhode Island Airport Corp. has until Friday to provide Attorney General Patrick Lynch with an air quality-monitoring plan.

Lynch has been fighting the RIAC over the lack of a permanent air quality-monitoring system at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, and is now seeking detailed information on a system Lynch requested be installed by last Thursday.

Lynch asked the RIAC in February why it had not done this earlier, and the corporation replied that state law is too vague on the matter.

"We have an opportunity during this legislative session to provide clarity to the state law and eliminate excuses for future non-compliance by ensuring accountability, enforceability, and oversight of this much needed system at T.F. Green," Lynch said.

Last month, Lynch wrote the RIAC, asking it to install a temporary system by April 26 and have a permanent system in place by Sept. 8.

"As I mentioned in my last letter, I recognize that an effective, well-designed, and permanent system cannot be built overnight," Lynch said Monday. "At the same time, however, because RIAC missed its statutory
Jan. 1 deadline to have installed a permanent system, I want assurances that it's taking the necessary steps to meet its obligations under the law. The first necessary step is the installation of a temporary system."

At Lynch's urging, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment passed a bill earlier this month designed to clarify the existing law that Lynch says required the RIAC to install the permanent system by Jan. 1 of this year.

When that wasn't done, he at least wanted a temporary system.

"The reason I requested the installation of a temporary system at T.F. Green was to allow the airport an opportunity to demonstrate its good faith to the community by immediately complying with a law designed to protect public health," Lynch said. "The most important objective for a temporary monitoring system, therefore, is not just the obvious -- that the switch has been turned on and the system is operational -- but also that the system produce information on toxic air pollutants as quickly as possible."

Studies of the air quality at the airport have shown the presence of several toxins. However, a study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency showed in 2006 that the levels of pollutants there were no worse than in the state's suburban areas.

However, a report in the Providence Journal said the study showed there were spikes of black carbon downwind from the airport.

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