Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scratching the Surface of Air Quality At London City Airport

The cat naughtily scratched the wall last night, missing his scratchpost by a few inches. He got a good telling off today. Sometimes rules just have to be followed and if you don't follow them, well you have to have the courage of your convictions and face the music.

However our friends at London City Airport seem incapable of facing the music without yet more spin, smoke and mirrors.

A few months ago the GMB workers union submitted a formal complaint to the Health and Safety Executive about the air quality in the airport terminal. This, allegedly was after many attempts by the union to see the air quality measurements from the airport. LCY apparently, and perhaps predictably declined to share the data according to the GMB:

London City Airport did hire monitoring equipment, which they located under air conditioning vents and operated themselves. The GMB has been denied access to the results and has serious doubts about this ‘in house’ monitoring and the lack of any independent control. As such any results from this exercise must be considered flawed.

Stephanie Attwood., GMB Organiser said, “GMB members working in the arrivals area report that the fumes get so bad that they experience signs of poisoning exposure such as: dry mouth, nose and throat, sore, itchy eyes, headaches and breathing difficulties. GMB Members working in this area have to vacate the room on a daily basis in order to escape having to breathe in the toxic air. Members of the travelling public who land at London City Airport have to use this area too as will competitors and visitors to the Olympics.

GMB is amazed at London City Airport’s refusal to agree to full independent monitoring to this potentially dangerous situation. If they had nothing to hide they would have done exactly that to reassure the travelling public. But no, instead they have botched up an in-house, off the cuff stab at monitoring that no one is allowed to the see the result of.

The reality of the situation is that London City Airport has chosen to sacrifice the health of their passengers and staff in order to line their pockets with high levels of profit. It is time for the airport to get real and clean up the situation finally putting their passengers’ and staff’s health first.”
Unfortunately FTF were not 'amazed' at all. After 8 years of the airport failing to carry out reliable noise and air readings, (all the readings in the expansion application were based on ESTIMATES because they had no data that they could use for the past 8 years!) it was not a surprise at all.

The HSE to our knowledge have yet to publish the report from their investigation, but you can't help but wonder why in that case, London City Airport has now decided to PAY Green Air Monitoring to come up with some data for them. No data is publicly available so far, but a certificate is, how wonderful! At least the staff member and passengers can perhaps check that out as their passing through, if it is displayed. Whether it gives them reassurance, or gets rid of the symptoms that the GMB describes is another story. Particularly if they knew what was outside the walls.
The data, apparently has given the airport a clean bill of health...but the 'press release' fails to mention the Health and Safety Executive report, or investigation which we assume to be ongoing. We all know that if HSE also find LCY having 'Green Air' inside the terminal, the spokesperson will suddenly be named, and the Newham Recorder will go into overdrive to report it. Incidently the Newham Recorder is going gung ho to report on the LCY paid consultants Green Air report this week. Just funny how the Newham Recorder FAILED to pick up on the story when the GMB press released it back in June. So keeping out the negatives is still priority there then!

Profits before people reign in East London, and it's quite clear where LCY's priorities lay.

Worse still is if we look beyond the walls of the airport terminal, that is where there is hard evidence that air quality is dangerous and in breach of EU regulations. We've written about that before and you can read it all here. But in addition don't forget the paid LCY consultant Dr Maggs. He seemed to think it was fine that flight expansion would push the air pollution ever further over the EU recommended levels. Bet he doesn't live in East London.

Amazing what you can buy today! Sadly, it's just a scratch at the surface of the issue of toxic air linked to London City Airport.