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Palomar Airport Expansion issues: Palomar Airport's Methane Gas Emitting Landfills Blog #2

Palomar Airport has runway safety issues. The FAA and County know it. Why don't you?

Ghouls and goblins should be Halloween fantasies, not Palomar Airport crash victims. 

Imagine a 75,000 pound aircraft  flying at 200 miles per hour crashing at Palomar Airport.  Mechanical problems, pilot error, a bird strike, wind shear, or ground conflict may be the cause.  

Birdies?  Yes, recall that hero Captain Sully Miller’s 2009 miracle landing on the Hudson River began with U.S. Airways flight 1549 sucking birds into the engine disabling the plane.  Earlier this month, a bird strike forced American Airline Flight 1388 into an emergency landing at Miami airport.

A Palomar plane may plow directly  into the 1000 foot FAA-designated “Runway Safety” area at the East end of the Palomar Runway.  Or simply slide into the “safety” area that is in reality simply a few feet of sand over compacted layers of trash as deep as 30 feet.   

Assume 80 surviving souls, as they say in sea and air disasters, await rescue.  Aviation fuel gushes from the plane.   Firefighters pour tens of thousands of gallons of water on the plane to avoid a methane gas sparked fire.

Will you and your children be saved? 

The Palomar Airport area East of the runway is known as Landfill Unit 3.  In July 2,000, Carlsbad inked a “Palomar Airport Acquisition Study.”   The main question?  Should Palomar buy the airport from the County?

Carlsbad concluded: “A review of Regional Water Quality Control Board and Department of Environmental Health files on the Landfill reveal (1) concerns about landfill gas emissions and the protection of groundwater that date back nearly 10 years and (2) the County Department of Public Works slow and inadequate responses to the requests of the environmental oversight agencies for measures to prevent environmental degradation and protect the public’s health.”

Carlsbad nixed the buy.  Any problems lately?  Is use of the Palomar “Runway Safety Area” safe?

In May 2012 County Landfill Management reported a “Unit 3 high temperature Event.”  The temperature was 133 degrees at 23 feet below ground.  And this reading was 27 degrees LOWER than in January 2012.

In May 2011, the County landfill consultant noted that several underground storage tanks had been leaking aviation fuel for some time.  The same consultant noted, based on a records reviews, that in 2006, certain landfill monitoring wells could not be found and may have been paved over.  The consultant noted that hydrocarbon emissions had impacted groundwater.

A November 13, 2009 FBI Press Release alleged that a Palomar Airport consultant  had reported misleading landfill gas readings.  The FBI found problems from October 2004 through May 2007.  Even worse, the consultant worked throughout the County, not just at Palomar Airport.

In December 2008, a County consultant reported that “recently methane concentrations exceeding the 5% lower explosive limit specified by law had been detected.”

In August 2008, the County requested permission to pollute the air from the Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board due to the release of pollutants from an underground Palomar Airport landfill fire.

In mid-May 2008, the County discovered a Palomar Airport Unit 3 underground landfill fire.  Temperatures initially detected were 217 degrees 25 feet below ground in an area about 40 feet in diameter.  

Investigation disclosed that a subsurface storm drain was feeding the fire.  The storm drain apparently had been broken by a Palomar Airport contractor and never discovered until the fire.   The consultant report noted: “It will be months and maybe a year before temperatures reach a normal range.”

Is there more?  Much.  The County has boxfuls of shelved consultant reports.  Just no analysis by the County or FAA showing how a problem plagued landfill makes a safe runway safety area.

Why am I telling you this?  No, I mean why am “I” telling you this.  If there is a Palomar landfill problem, shouldn’t the FAA or the County or the City of Carlsbad be telling us?

By the way, even if you and your children survive the crash and escape death by fire, are the FAA and County saying that tens of thousands of fire fighting water and aviation fuel saturating the landfill and polluting the groundwater is environmentally safe?

Next week: Blog #3  Palomar Airport safety?   Who has your back?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donald Sonck October 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Great report, Raymond. All of the government entities you mention have been playing shenanigans on their real intent to expand the runway at Palomar. The danger in doing so you have clearly outlined. The thought of a jumbo commerical airliner crashing there is indeed a frightful thought. Are you listening, Mr. Drinkwater?
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