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Sea-Tac becomes first “Salmon Safe” airport in the nation

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June 27, 2016 - A Boeing 747 cruises in for a landing onto what appears to be a meadow full of native flowers at Sea-Tac Airport. This is just a few hundred yards from salmon-bearing streams at the airport. Years of projects to restore and preserve the habitat have earned Sea-Tac the designation of being the first "Salmon Safe" airport in the nation.

SEA-TAC AIRPORT  –  It may not look any different to you.  But Sea-Tac Airport made aviation history today.

It’s now the first airport in the country, certified as “Salmon-Safe.”

That means the airport is in part protecting nearby streams, by managing storm water and runoff from plane de-icer chemicals and eliminating pesticide use.

“It’s a measure that goes above and beyond the national discharge permit.  This stream right over here has been restored and the surrounding three watersheds,” said David Burger, Executive Director of Stewardship Partners, the independent third-party group that analyzed operations and certified the airport.  The organization also certifies farms, vineyards and golf courses.

He says restoration of local plants and streams have been a priority for the airport for years, and the certification is the next step, in raising the bar for  environmental stewardship.

“There has been over 150,000 plantings of native trees and shrubs large wooded debris placement and bank stabilzation.  And there’s salmon that come back every fall and spawn in the stream right next to us,”  said Burger.

The airport has an on-site wastewater treatment plant and holding ponds to handle runoff from the airport, including chemicals from de-icing agents used on aircraft.

The facility has resulted in zero releases of de-icer residue, according to Burger.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment to rank as the nation’s fastest growing airport and while also protecting and enhancing the environment,”  said Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire.  “The Port of Seattle is committed to cleaning up Puget Sound.  But it’s one thing to clean up Puget Sound if you’re not treating and understanding the runoff, that means we don’t have a healthy environment for the future.”

“All this pavement and this concrete, if it’s not managed properly, it picks up that petroleum and the chemicals and it washes it intot the streams and and eventually into Puget Sound,” Burger said.  “If we’re going to make sure that we keep Puget Sound over the long run, we need to all support this type of effort.”

“Our sustainable airport master plan is in place to make sure all future projects at Sea-Tac maintain these high environmental standards,” Gregoire said.



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