California FBOs Facing Lead Lawsuits

 - May 12, 2011, 11:10 AM

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) warned dozens of companies at 25 California airports as well as oil companies about violations of the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65). The warning serves as the required 60-day notice under the act that the CEH plans to file a lawsuit against each company unless they alert people near airports to the presence of lead in avgas, stop using leaded avgas and pay a civil penalty for violation of Proposition 65. The CEH, a non-profit, earns revenue by filing actions against purported Proposition 65 violators. Fees include 25 percent of the penalty, attorney fees and money from consent agreements reached with the accused parties. “There’s little evidence [showing] that the quantities of lead emissions by general aviation aircraft ever injured anybody,” said NATA president Jim Coyne. NATA is mounting an effort to fight the CEH action. While CEH research director Caroline Cox acknowledged that she knows of no firm evidence of harm caused by the tetraethyl lead used in avgas, she said, “Our goal is to remove this one particular chemical from the fuel used to power that fleet. We feel like there’s good data from the studies that shows it’s a health hazard that needs to be addressed.” The General Aviation Avgas Coalition said that it is “exploring all options” to support the accused violators. “Because the National Airspace System belongs to the people of the United States and benefits the entire country,” the group said, “Congress has reserved to the federal government, through the FAA, the right and responsibility to regulate all aviation activities in the U.S. The threatened CEH lawsuit in California raises the specter of a patchwork of state regulations governing fuels pilots may or may not use in their piston-powered aircraft.”