Seattle-area residents sue local port and major airlines for toxic pollution

Photo credit: SounderBruce, licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0

by Elaine Miller, Plane Sense 4 Long Island, Co-founder, Quiet American Skies, member.

Justice is the cornerstone of a civilized society. True freedom lies in the tenet that justice will be rightly served to those individuals, corporations, industries and agencies who knowingly perpetrate harm onto its people. The fight for justice never comes easy. We have been grinding away at exacting justice for our communities who have been imperiled from aviation noise and air pollution. This fight has not deterred committed citizens from pursuing, at every cost, a court decision which supports the finding that aviation emissions are the cause of many debilitating health issues.

On April 19, 2023, Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based law firm, filed a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle, which owns Sea-Tac Airport, claiming that the port and airline companies are well informed of the pollutants and health risks connected to their operations. Aware of the health issues caused by pollutants, they have done nothing to alleviate these dangerous conditions. The attorneys are calling the areas surrounding Sea-Tac Airport the “contamination zone,” since higher rates of cancer, heart disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases have been discovered by researchers. The zone contains 300,000 people, 60,000 of whom are children. The lawsuit seeks to hold the port accountable by funding a cleanup of the area, compensating residents for the loss of use and enjoyment of their property and establishing a medical monitoring fund.

Aviation organizations have pushed the point that airplane activity creates an unhealthy environment, exposing nearby residents to a wide range of pollutants. We have been sounding the alarm for justice to be granted to communities who have been subjected to an unjust system which has continually ruled against them as far as aviation litigation is concerned. The powerful aviation industry has the means to influence decision makers in government and in our judicial system. The time has come for justice to be served in our court system; a final ruling in favor of the people forced to live in an environment that is detrimental to their health, and one they did not create. Let this be the time for us to win and for justice to prevail.

 “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but for both” –Eleanor Roosevelt

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