SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Raising awareness about the dangerous combination of leaded jet fuel at San Jose’s Reid-Hillview Airport and the children who live nearby is the goal of a new awareness and awareness campaign. Education in Santa Clara County.
“The privileged few continue to fly their planes. The difference is that their children are not subject to any of these poisons,” says Maria Reyes, spokeswoman for the Cassell Neighborhood Association.
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Reyes says she hopes the county’s education campaign is just the first step toward closing the airport permanently.
“I think our community needs to eliminate this danger,” she said.
County officials tried to speed up plans to close the airport after a study of more than 13,000 children living near Reid-Hillview found high levels of lead in their blood.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez says even the county’s recent ban on leaded fuel at the airport doesn’t fully mitigate the risk of lead from small plane fuel.
“People can always buy leaded gasoline and bring it there, and that’s what they do. And when people come from other airports, they don’t necessarily need to have unleaded fuel in their tanks,” Supervisor Chavez said.
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The pilots and the owner of the airport company, however, say they have tried to be good neighbours.
“Pilots, we don’t like lead either,” says Walter Gyger, owner of Tradewinds Aviation.
Gyger says the airport even before the county ban began trucking in unleaded fuel from the Midwest. He says it would take federal action by the FAA to get the entire small plane industry to switch to unleaded fuel.
“The sooner the leader leaves our operations, the better. The thing is, the industry is not there yet to have the fuel available for all planes,” he said.
The Board of Supervisors plans to vote to hire a company to lead the education and awareness campaign. It will involve going door to door educating people in multiple languages about the dangers of lead poisoning.
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“I think we need to keep advocating for the airport to be closed because that’s what we’ve heard from the community,” says Andrea Portillo, spokesperson for community advocacy organization Somos Mayfair. .