HULL, MA-This town has filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Port Authority accusing the agency of lying to the state environmental agency over the impact of a new runway at Logan International Airport. Hull, along with a number of other local towns, are trying to block the development of the proposed runway but officials at Massport tell say that after the terror attacks, their focus is no longer on the expansion.

Town manager Phil Lemnois tells that in its lawsuit the town contends that Massport underestimated the noise impact of the proposed runway by 900% and failed to disclose all the types of aircraft it would accommodate. The lawsuit also maintains that Massport didn’t identify flight tracks or explore alternatives sufficiently. “The thrust is we feel that they omitted a serious amount of information that would allow people reviewing the information to have a clear picture,” he says. “We believe the material was prepared with the intent to deceive.” Hull along with Hingham, Cohasset, Revere, Everett, Winthrop and Somerville–which are all contributing financially to the lawsuit–are concerned about the increase in air traffic a new runway will bring over their towns. According to Lemnois, the air traffic will impact the property values, the air quality and the noise in Hull and its neighboring towns.

The runway still needs to go through the Federal Aviation Administration environmental process and needs to get a court order to lift an injunction on building a new runway at Logan. The city of Boston is in the process of trying to prevent that injunction from being lifted. Lemnois says that he hopes that the information that Hull provides in the lawsuit will help the FAA come to its decision. “It’s impossible to come to a proper decision with flawed material,” he notes. The new runway was approved by the state’s environmental agency.

It would seem that since the terror attacks of September 11–in which two of the four planes hijacked came from Logan–Massport would have more on its mind than a new runway and that is what Massport spokesperson Barabara Platt tells “”All we are focused on is the safety and security at the airport,” she says. “We do not have the time, the resources or the inclination to focus on a new runway.” But Lemnois insists that Massport has been quietly working on the runway, all the while maintaining that it is on the back burner. “They’ve been trying to say they’ve been putting it on hold since September 11,” he says. “It is an organization steeped in deceptive practices.”

Platt acknowledges that one Massport employee has been working on completing the FAA filing but only because that work was nearly 98% complete. “There won’t be a decision on whether to proceed within the next few months,” she points out. “Massport hasn’t even set a date to return to court to have the injunction lifted.” Part of the problem is that the runway was to be funded largely through Massport and with new security considerations it is unclear whether there will be any funding available for the project.

Still, Platt defends the need for the runway noting that “when winds blow from the northwest there are delays. The runway provides a vital fix to this airport problem. Logan will need this at some time but it’s not a priority now. We are focused now on safety.”

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