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SEATAC, WA-An eight-year battle to build a third runway at the congested Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hit another snag yesterday when the Department of Ecology determined that the proposal does not adequately address environmental concerns.

The Port of Seattle agreed to withdraw its application for a wetlands permit yesterday because of concerns by the DOE that the plan didn’t sufficiently handle water runoff at the airport. The agency also expressed concern about the effect on stream flow in nearby Miller, Walker and Des Moines creeks.

While DOE officials say they have no intention of killing the third runway project by rejecting the application and believe that “the port is on the right path conceptually”, opponents of the airport expansion are confident that the decision will deliver a devastating blow to the project and could delay the project by as much as three years. Port officials dismiss such talk and predict that the expansion project, which is estimated to cost a staggering $770 million, will still be finished in late 2006 as planned.

To meet DOE requirements, the Port must, among other things, demonstrate that it has a source of water to augment the flows in Des Moines, Miller and Walker Creeks during the hot summer months when water is low. Port officials have given themselves a two-month time line to meet the requirements and believe they will get approval for the wetlands permit in 60 days.

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