Burlington, VT, Nov 28, 2012 — The F-35, the Air Force's new fighter jet, may be coming to the Burlington airport. People are worried about noise from the plane, but there's also another concern: public health.
Tuesday night the Burlington, Vt.,0 Board of Health heard expert testimony about possible health consequences if the F-35 figher jet comes to town.
A physician, a professor, a noise expert, and a representative from the Vermont Air National Guard all spoke.
Les Blaumberg is the executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, a national nonprofit based in Montpelier, Vt. He says the Air Force’s draft Environmental Impact Statement doesn’t provide much data.
"The draft EIS doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen…I think it’s safe to say there will be health impacts, there will be impacts on children’s learning, there will be impacts on the quality of life, there will be impacts on the property values here, there may be impacts in the areas the flights occur."
Austin Sumner is the chair of the Burlington Board of Health and a practicing physician. He says not only is it difficult to determine the health consequences of the F-35, it’s also not clear who’s in charge of leading the investigation.
"There are three separate communities that will be…potentially adversely affected by this plane. That’s Winooski, Burlington and South Burlington."
He says the Burlington Board of health has "no authority" in Winooski or South Burlington. "There is only one department or agency that really has multi-jurisdictional authority and that is the Vermont Department of Health and I have not to date heard their position on this matter. They should be the lead organization investigating the public health effects related to what could affect 7000-9000 members of those three communities."
The Burlington Board of Health plans to form a position and advise the Burlington City Council.
The Air Force is expected to release their final Environmental Impact Statement soon. They will announce a decision about the jet early in 2013.