Ratepayers face huge bill for cleaning airport mess
SUNSHINE Coast Airport has been billed $3975 and warned it would face costs in that order for every day sand and dust from the runway construction site impacted one tenant's business.
McDermott Aviation has filed the invoice to cover the cost of its staff having to clean two hangars and water rinse engines of five aircraft and detail their airframes after strong northerly winds sent the dust and sand swirling through its maintenance workshops yesterday.
Captain Mike Becker of Becker Helicopters also wrote to the airport on Monday saying his engineering staff and aircrew were having problems with fine dust in their aircraft and simulators.
He wrote failing resolution he would also start issuing invoices for the additional labour required to clean up the mess.
Sunshine Coast Airport Head of Corporate Relations, Ayllie White, said that given the project was being delivered by Sunshine Coast Council, the Airport would work with them regarding any potential responsibility for cleaning costs.
McDermott managing director Simon McDermott said every time a north easterly or north westerly wind blew sand and dust could be heard hitting his business's windows.
"We've got maintenance going on," he said.
"At the moment there's not one water truck on the runway site."
North, north-westerly and north-easterly winds have hammered the airport for the past four days with similar conditions expected through to the weekend.
McDermott Aviation has been lobbying since August for dust and sand issues to be addressed.
In September, the company wrote to airport management warning that sand and dust were a threat to its maintenance operations.
"We have tried simply closing our hanger doors to reduce the amounts of sand and dust blowing into our facilities however this is not enough to stop the continuous spray of sand and dust," Mr McDermott wrote.
"As you would appreciate, we cannot afford to have sand and dust throughout the exposed engines and sensitive avionics of our aircraft, as the cost to clean and repair any damage caused by the sand and dust from your site would be considerably expensive.
"Could you please put some environmental controls in place to stop all of this sand and dust blowing from your site and into our hangers/maintenance facilities.
"I am sure that as a part of the EIS or development application you would have to have some type of environmental control process in place prior to construction."
McDermott representatives met with airport management and the runway construction head Ross Ullman last Thursday about the issue and to call for an immediate fix.
On Monday, with dust continuing to blow from the construction site into its hangars, Mr McDermott wrote to Frank Mondello, the airport general manger operations and assets, warning that McDermott Aviation Group would be invoicing Sunshine Coast Airport for "the clean-up each day of each facility and if required any engineering or mechanical dust-related issues".
In response to questions in August, Sunshine Coast Council said the "contractor and Council ensure that their safety and environmental responsibilities are being maintained at all times".
"The appropriate erosion and sediment control is in place on site and the contractor is fully aware of the need to manage environmental factors such as wind," a representative said.
In this case the contractor has deployed water carts to suppress dust blow.
Ms White said the Airport was working closely with the council and the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project team to ensure any potential construction impacts to stakeholders and tenants resulting from the project, were managed appropriately.
She said mitigation measures included continued water cart operations; application of soil binder in construction/works areas; placement of turf and landscaping to reduce potentially exposed areas and continued monitoring of wind and weather forecasts to further manage any potential dust impacts.