Aviation fuel polluting air and water with lead?
May 11, 2011
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is taking legal action against several major oil companies and suppliers for allegedly causing the pollution of drinking water sources and air around 25 airports throughout California, including San Pedro Creek in Goleta and a nearly one-mile radius around Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.
This week, the environmental watchdog group served ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, AvFuel Corporation and 38 airport-based fuel suppliers with notices of violation which charge that the fuel suppliers are in violation of Proposition 65 for selling leaded aviation gas that produces high lead emissions and causes the pollution of drinking water sources, and for not warning residents of the potential for lead exposure.
Under California law, pollution of drinking water sources above state standards would require the companies to cease sales of their leaded gas.
In its legal action, the CEH is backed by a 2008 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report which identifies 25 airports designated as those with the highest lead emissions in California.
Lead exposure can cause “a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death,” according to the EPA. Children under six are most vulnerable to adverse effects from the toxic metal.
“The oil and aviation industries need to know Californians will not tolerate lead pollution that threatens our health and healthy environments,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH, in a statement. “We expect the industries to take immediate action to eliminate pollution that endangers children and families who live, work and play near airports across the state.”
In the notice the CEH threatens to file suit against each violator unless they stop selling leaded aviation fuel, clean the lead from the sources of drinking water, provide warning to those that live by or pass through the listed airports, and pay a civil penalty.
Lead is an additive in avgas used in piston-engine aircraft, usually small planes classified for general aviation or as air taxis. The EPA recognizes aviation fuel as the major source of lead emissions into the air.