Monday, August 20, 2001
Mammoth Cave concern raised
Scientists fear airport would cause pollution
The Associated Press
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. Some scientists have raised concerns that a proposed airport and business park might cause pollution that could reach Mammoth Cave, one of the nation's top tourist destinations.
Eighteen hydrologists, geologists and biologists outlined their concerns in a letter to the would-be developer of the $80 million Kentucky TriModal Transpark.
The group said spilled jet fuel or other contamination from the 4,000-acre site north of Bowling Green could find its way into the rivers that run through the world's longest cave.
Mammoth Cave National Park is too valuable to allow speculation about this issue to remain unresolved, the letter said.
Mammoth Cave attracted 1.8 million visitors last year and brings in more than $100 million each year.
Dan Cherry, president of the InterModal Transportation Authority, which wants to build the project, said he also is concerned about protecting the national park.
The authority would build a drainage system to ensure that spills or runoff from the project would be contained and treated, he said.
Officials at the national park also have raised concerns.
In a letter commenting on the project, park Superintendent Ronald Switzer said if research showing a possible groundwater connection is verified, the project could harm the endangered Kentucky cave shrimp.
He said the project could worsen air-pollution problems that already are bad.
The scientists' letter was written by Roger Brucker, who has written four books about Mammoth Cave. He says there is a high risk that pollution from the project would reach the cave.
Five people who signed the letter are Western Kentucky University faculty members.
Mr. Cherry said there is not enough evidence to justify a study of the kind the scientists want.
It may be that, as we get to the environmental impact statement or engineering work, we will need to do that, but I'm not willing to say we need it at this point, Mr. Cherry said.
A final version of the environmental assessment of the proposed transpark will be completed this week. It will be followed by a more in-depth environmental impact statement, Mr. Cherry said. The scientists say the study they want should be part of that statement.
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