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F-35 Environmental Report Shows Increase In Households Impacted By Noise

The Air Force has issued a revised draft report on the impact of bringing the F-35 jet fighter to Burlington. The report is a follow up to last year’s Environmental Impact Statement. 

The Air Force says the Vermont Air National Guard facility at Burlington International Airport is a preferred location for the new generation of planes, which have been troubled by delays, mechanical difficulties and cost overruns.

Like the earlier draft the revised report says the F-35 would increase the size of the area affected by noise levels averaging 65 decibels or greater. The government says noise levels above 65 decibels are incompatible with residential areas. 

The new draft statement weighs the impact of two scenarios. 

The first, which the guard says is the most likely one, would involve 18 F-35s based in Burlington. 

Under that scenario 2,061 more people, and nearly one thousand more households would be subjected to noise levels averaging 65 decibels or greater.

A second scenario, with additional planes, would expose more than 3,000 additional individuals the higher decibel levels.

The potential impact of the increased noise on health, quality of life and property values has sparked a debate in Chittenden County over bringing the F-35s to Burlington.

The Vermont National Guard and many in the business community argue that the plane is critical to the future of the guard and the local economy. 

They also say steps can be taken to reduce noise and they point out that based on the training schedule, the noise will only last for about 6 minutes per day.   

The report notes that the Burlington airport is one of two preferred alternatives. But it says the McEntire base in South Carolina is the preferred alternative from an environmental perspective because of a decrease in the number of people that would be exposed to excessive noise levels.

The Air Force is expected to make a final decision later this year.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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