New departure procedure alleviates noise over some parts of the city; residents should continue advocating for further changes
The City of Somerville is pleased to announce that Boston Logan International Airport has implemented a new departure procedure for one of its runways that should decrease aircraft noise pollution over parts of the city, but urges residents to continue reporting aircraft noise to compel the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Massport’s adoption of further alternative operations at Logan Airport that would provide relief to all of Somerville.
The new departure procedure for Runway 33 Left at Logan began on June 5, 2013, after the FAA determined it would not produce significant environmental impacts. With this new procedure, aircraft that previously flew directly over northeastern and middle Somerville during departures should now instead fly north of the Mystic River. The FAA will conduct another review of the new departure procedure in six months.
Although this change will benefit only residents of East and parts of Central Somerville, Logan Airport can still adopt more equitable runaway patterns that will further mitigate aircraft noise pollution over the city, which has tripled since the construction of Runway 14/32 at Logan Airport. The City of Somerville asks residents to continue reporting aircraft noise to 311 and to Massport to document how the changes are working and advocate for future changes.
“This is a small yet victorious step for the City of Somerville and surrounding communities. Any decrease in the frequency of or noise level of flights over our community is a welcome change, and we will continue to work with and lobby Massport and the FAA for additional mitigation for the entire city,” Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said. “In the meantime, we need to make our case to Massport and the FAA to ensure that these changes happen, but we cannot do it without our residents help. Residents should continue to report each incident to both 311 and Massport so the city can make a strong argument for changes at Logan Airport that will have a direct impact on our residents’ health and quality of life and, as studies have shown, our children’s ability to learn.”
The first goal of the Boston Logan Airport Noise Study (BLANS) is to reduce the number of people exposed to aircraft noise in excess of 60 decibels. The most recent BLANS report released in December 2012 states that without any changes to Logan Airport operations, in 2015 Somerville residents would have been subjected to 34 incidents of aircraft noise pollution exceeding 60 decibels each day.
That same report identifies alternative Logan Airport operations that could reduce the number of daily 60-plus decibel incidents over Somerville by up to 69 percent and the minutes of 60-plus decibel aircraft noise pollution over the city by up to 76 percent.
Studies have shown that night-time aircraft noise pollution can increase a person’s blood pressure even if it does not wake them, increasing the risk of hypertension, and that residents in areas with more aircraft noise are up to 50 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular impairment.
Another study found that chronic exposure to aircraft noise pollution is associated with higher levels of poorer reading comprehension and sustained attention problems in children. Those problems do not fade over time and children do not adapt the noise, according to the study, but rather persist as long as the children are subjected to the noise pollution
Residents should report aircraft noise to Massport online at http://www.massport.com/environment/environmental_reporting/noise abatement/noisecomplaints.aspx or by calling the Massport Noise Complaint Line at (617) 561-3333 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on business days. Those same complaints should also be registered with the City of Somerville by calling 311 or online at http://citizen.somervillema.intelligovsoftware.com/.