In the modern world, air transportation is one of the most important and complex systems of transactions. The most challenging problem it has to deal with is meeting the increasing demand while taking into consideration ecological impacts. Considerable technical advances achieved over the last decades have made aircraft significantly less noisy, polluting, and more fuel-efficient. However, there is a threat that a further increase in demand will soon surpass technical development. At the same time, environmental issues are becoming more and more pressing (De Naufville, Odoni, Belobaba, & Reynolds, 2013).
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Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is a commercial service airport, which has lately become one of the nation’s busiest, with about 3300 flights per day, which exceeds normal air traffic fourfold (Federal Aviation Administration, 2005). Its operation and maintenance are controlled by the nine-member Aviation Board. The airport is situated in close proximity to Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. It occupies a territory of about 1600 acres, including all the facilities. The terminal structure consists of four separate concourses and the major terminal (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
In order to perform an accurate environmental assessment, two study areas have been identified: the Regional Study Area covers all neighboring communities, which are influenced indirectly in terms of noise, pollution, wildlife, etc., and the Airport Study Area that covers only about 700 acres and experiences the direct impact of the airport’s activity.
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are set by the USA Environmental Protection Agency in order to take care of public health. The Agency singles out six basic air pollutants that can undermine it: Carbon Monoxide (CO), Lead (Pb), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), 8-Hour, Particulate Matter (PM10 or PM2.5), and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) (Federal Aviation Administration, 2005). Those areas that do not correspond to these standards are referred to as nonattainment areas. Both the Regional Study Area and the Airport Study Area are currently in attainment despite the fact that the former was previously reported to have violations for O3 (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
The noise pollution issue has been dealt with for several decades. The airport successfully implements a buyout program purchasing and insulating homes that are situated within the noise-affected areas. Sound insulation can vary depending on the location (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
Both study areas are classified as urbanized, which implies that the environment provides habitat to species that have adapted to urban conditions (birds and small mammals). No endangered plants or animals have been identified within the boundaries (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
Water pollution issues become acute in winter when anti-icing chemicals are applied to remove snow from runways and planes. Equipment and car washing, fuel spills, and other water-related activities contaminate stormwater in the drainage system of the Regional Study Area. However, the source of pollution is not significant (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
The airport’s emissions do not exceed the accepted level. However, there was a case of diesel fuel release, which led to minor exceedance of benzopyrene, benzobfluoroanthene, and TPH-D. About 30 tons of soil had to be excavated in order to prevent dangerous consequences (Final environmental assessment, 2013).
Despite certain problems that inevitably arise in the activity of any transportation system, if we estimate the total effect of environment-threatening factors, it can be stated that both areas completely fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the environmental impact categories described in FAA Order 1050.1E, Change 1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, and FAA Order 5050.4B, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Implementing Instructions for Airport Actions.
De Naufville, R. L., Odoni, A. R., Belobaba, P. & Reynolds, T. (2013). Airport systems: Planning, design and management, (2nd ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Federal Aviation Administration: Performance and accountability highlights. (2005). Web.
Final environmental assessment for the long term airport development at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (2013). Web.