OKC’s Airport Trust to be Sued Over Pollution at Wiley Post Airport

The attorneys who filed a 2016 federal lawsuit over the pollution caused by the now-abandoned Gulfstream airplane plant in Bethany say they soon will add Oklahoma City as a defendant.

The lawsuit was filed by the city of Bethany against Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and Rockwell Automation System Inc, accusing the two companies of contaminating the soil and groundwater and failing to remove the pollution.

According to the Journal Record, attorney David P. Page contends the Oklahoma City Airport Trust is not doing enough to assist in the cleanup of the plant site next to the Wiley Post Airport.

“People have known about contamination of the soil and groundwater since 1992 and it hasn’t been cleaned up properly,” he told the newspaper.

The lawsuit is set to go to trial in July of 2019 and was filed as CV-01105 in Oklahoma City U.S. District Court.  A filing made by Page on March 29 of this year asked for an extension of the deadline to amend the complaint so Oklahoma City could be named as another defendant although the filing did not mention Oklahoma City by name.

In his filing, Page indicated that he had been engaged in discussions with the Defendants concerning a possible settlement “with an additional party that Plaintiff believes has liability for contamination that is impacting its water supply.”

The state was notified in 2009 by the Airport Trust of the pollution which consisted of a nearly 1-mile long groundwater plume and the Department of Environmental Quality created a voluntary cleanup plan.

The pollution came from chemicals used at the airplane manufacturing plant in the metal painting process. The chemicals include perchloroethylene and trichloroethene and were involved in at least one reported spill documented by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA also determined Gulfstream in 1985 was not properly storing the chemicals.

What worries Page is that the chemicals could eventually make their way into the underground water resource used by Bethany for drinking water purposes. So far, the Bethany drinking water is considered safe.