Garfield County Airport Director: Dust issues from airport project ending soon
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – Some neighbors of the Garfield County Regional Airport, located south and east of Rifle, are not happy about the dust being kicked into the air by an ongoing runway realignment project.
But, pledged airport director Brian Condie, the misery should be over soon.
Condie said the majority of the earthmoving work should be finished by the end of July or early August, and that contractors have already begun putting the topsoil down that was removed and stored when the project began in April.
He explained that the topsoil, when watered by one of the seven watering trucks, which are putting down 100,000 gallons of water per day, develops a crust on top that is resistant to the winds that regularly blow over the airport site from the west.
The watering trucks, Condie said, have been spreading three million gallons of water per week at the site, to contend with the consequences of disturbing three million cubic yards of dirt.
“It’s the type of project where we’re not going to be able to mitigate everything,” said county environmental health officer Jim Rada at a meeting with the board of county commissioners on July 19. “The dirt is like talcum powder.”
Condie and Rada each conceded that there have been numerous complaints from area residents about the dust. Some, Condie said, have been from people living in Rifle who, Condie believes, may be confusing smoke from the Meadow Creek Fire with dust from the airport.
He said he has invited every caller to come to the airport for a tour and to talk about their concerns, but that so far only one man has done so.
But that man, Dave Suebert of the Planted Earth garden center in Carbondale, told the Post Independent that he was more interested in the construction techniques used to build a retaining wall at the runway’s end than in the dust.
Although, he added, “Now that I think of it, there was a lot of dust there.”
Rada said he does not know how many complaints have come in, and that the volume “comes in waves, depending on the weather.”
But both Rada and Condie said that none of the calls included any specific claims of health impacts from the dust.
The county has been working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and with the contractors, to keep the dust to a minimum and comply with state air quality requirements, Rada said.
The project is scheduled to be finished in November, when the airport will reopen for business.
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