Construction of the jet fuel facility began west of Hwy. 183 to serve ABIA as fuel demand increases. ABIA received the green light to begin building in April 2022, a week after opposition failed to pause the airport’s plans.
Chief Business and Finance Officer Mookie Patel and AUS Project Manager David Smythe-Macaulay presented the updates during an Airport Advisory Commission meeting Feb. 8.
Construction on the actual tanks began in November, and the foundation for two tanks have been completed. Crews are still in progress of completing the tanks.
After crews accidentally released a mud-water mixture into the wetland area in September, restoration of the surrounding wetland is estimated to be completed by March.
An estimated 500 gallons of mud-water mixtures were released, covering 0.02 acres of previously dry areas when crews created pressure by pulling a pipe underground that caused the mud to bubble up to the surface. There are no chemicals in the mud water, and it does not pose any danger to the wetland area or to people, said Smythe-Macaulay.
In December, a restoration plan was approved by the Watershed Protection Department. This includes physically removing the mud from the area, properly disposing of the mud off-site, excavating the site and planting seed. Protective barriers have been installed to prevent the mud from flowing downstream.
AUS Fuel LLC, the third party developer of the facility, is responsible for the restoration as well as daily monitoring of the wetland, said Smythe-Macaulay.
“Hopefully, within a year [the wetland] shouldn’t be noticeable of any release,” Smythe-Macaulay said Feb. 8.
The jet fuel facility is being constructed within 500 feet of homes, stirring up concerns from the residing neighborhood.
After McCall Lane neighbors petitioned to relocate the then-proposed facility, District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes proposed a search for alternative sites for the facility. In April, City Council rejected the measure.
“We’re very sad to see that tank farms have returned, and this one is only 450 feet from a neighborhood,” Valerie Mendard of People in Defense of Earth and her Resources said Feb. 8. “So while we can’t stop it now, what we want you all to consider and recommend is that for future expansion, please consider locations that are much further away from any communities or neighborhoods.”
The environmental impact report, conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, found that the facility would pose no significant environmental impact if constructed.
For updates on the jet fuel facility and its construction, visit www.publicinput.com/ausfuel.