Spring 2002
(Adobe Acrobat PDF version)
     Welcome to the second issue of The Quiet Zone. In our premier issue, we tried to define the noise problem with our feature article, 20 Noises We Can Do Without. Future editions of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse’s newsletter will focus on solving noise problems. In this issue we take on Boom Cars and Airports, and we are asking you to help.
     The lead article features our Preserve the Peace project, NPC’s antidote to Sony Corporation’s Disturb the Peace marketing campaign for its car audio systems. We invite you to join the effort by sending Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony America, a letter asking him to become a better corporate neighbor, stop marketing incivility, and donate the trademark “Disturb the Peace” to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for safe keeping.
     In addition, NPC is releasing two new tools for citizens and citizen groups facing aviation noise. The first is a study of the top concerns of those living near airports. The second is a new website, that helps track what the FAA and federal government are doing at each of the 100 most likely to expand airports. We are also commencing a study of airport noise effects and hope you’ll participate.
     Peace and Quiet,
     Les Blomberg, Executive Director
The Quiet Zone

A publication of
The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 1137
Montpelier, VT 05601
toll free (888) 200-8332
e-mail: npc@nonoise.org
website: http://www.nonoise.org

Harriet Barlow, Director, Blue Mountain Center
Peter Barnes, Co-Founder, Working Assets
John Gilroy, Environmental Consultant
John Moyers, Executive Director, The Florence Fund
Alice Suter, Principal, Suter and Associates

Mark Dowie, Writer and Environmental Activist
Bill McKibben, Writer and Environmental Activist
Stephanie Mills, Writer and Environmental Activist
David Morris, Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Les Blomberg, Executive Director
James Sharp, Communications Director/Webmaster
Kathryn Mathieson, Assistant Director
Garrett Schure, Project Director
Kristie Lyon, Office Manager

The Quiet Zone is published twice a year by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating more livable civil cities and more natural rural and wilderness areas by reducing noise pollution at the source.

Editors: Kathryn Mathieson and James Sharp
Layout and Design: Tim Newcomb

Preserve the Peace

DISTURB THE PEACE. That’s what terrorists do. And that’s what SONY does. They have gone so far as to trademark the phrase, paste it on SONY products, and proclaim it from the pages of magazines and newspapers. What they are doing is marketing incivility along with their SONY mobile car stereo products.

PRESERVE THE PEACE. That's what we do. And we want you to join the effort. Join our Preserve the Peace Campaign.


Boom cars are concerts with wheels. Their loud stereo systems can be heard long before the car can be seen. These car stereo systems, capable of being played at deafeningly loud levels, are marketed as sexy and rebellious.

An entire set of magazines, including Car Sound and Performance, Car Audio, Car Audio and Electronics, and Auto Sound and Security, has sprung up with the industry. These magazines, like the boom car systems they sell, are aimed at an audience high on hormones, whose system just isn’t big enough.

Sex sells, and sex sells car stereos. The ratio of flesh to fabric of the women photographed in the December issue of Car Sound and Performance is greater than 10 to 1. They are selling din by showing skin.

Incivility and rebellion also sell car stereos. The enemy is your sleeping neighbor, your parents, anyone over 40, and Peace and Quiet.

Just as the tobacco companies before them, the car stereo industry has found a way to coopt and capitalize on rebellion. When multinational corporations incite rebellion, you can be sure it isn’t rebellion against injustice or rebellion against war. Nor is it the rebellion of 1776. There is no cause but to disturb the peace.

This corporate co-opted rebellion is a rebellion against neighbors. It is a rebellion that doesn’t ask for a sacrifice and doesn’t hope to make the world better. It has no goal but to be heard and seen. Its value is measured in decibels and corporate profits.

The worst corporate offender by far is SONY. SONY’s Disturb the Peace ads for amplifiers and speakers that offer “ALL NEW WAYS TO OFFEND,” are designed to appeal to people who feel they are not receiving the attention they are due. The primary purpose of a 300-watt car stereo amplifier, 10 times more power than the Beatles originally used in concert, is to make you notice them.

Boom cars scream into our neighborhoods, “I am here—look at me—you can’t do anything about it.” Their message is all about power. Boom cars are to our streets as bullies were to our schoolyards. They beat you up with decibels instead of fists. They make your chest shake and your ears ache. Boom car owners feel powerful at the expense of their neighbors.

Civility is all about acknowledging others and treating them with respect, as you would like to be treated. The incivility associated with SONY’s sales pitch is all about forcing others to acknowledge your presence. This sales pitch isn’t coming from a neighborhood thug, but a corporation that is a guest in our country. A very big guest. Fortune Magazine ranked SONY the 69th largest company in the world, and number 6 on the Global Most Admired Companies list. Fortune, of course, doesn’t consider corporate responsibility a prerequisite for being admirable.


NPC created the Preserve the Peace campaign as an antidote to SONY’s Disturb the Peace advertising. The first phase of the campaign, planned for this spring and summer has three components.

  1. NPC has sent a letter to SONY Corporation of America’s Chairman and CEO, Howard Stringer, and SONY’s Chairman of the Board in Japan, Norio Ohgaony. We’ve asked them to:
    • Donate the “Disturb the Peace” Trademark to NPC. NPC will hold the trademark in a “Quiet Trust,” never to be used again.
    • Stop marketing incivility.
    • Contribute to Peace and Quiet.

  2. NPC is collecting letters from friends of quiet like you to send to SONY’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, similar to the NPC’s letter. We hope to mail five to ten letters a day to SONY. (Please return the enclosed letter to us in the envelope provided.)
  3. NPC is encouraging local communities to pass and enforce boom car ordinances. (See article on page 6.)

The second phase of the campaign will be announced this summer if the first phase is not successful. (We don’t want to tell SONY all of our plans just now, but it's safe to assume that NPC will use media events to associate SONY with the incivility SONY promotes.)

Here is what you can do to contribute to the Preserve the Peace campaign.

For starters:

  • Sign and return the letter for SONY’s Chairman of the Board and CEO to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. We will send the letter to SONY America and a copy to Japan, with about five other letters each day.
  • Mention SONY Corporation’s marketing of incivility at every chance you get.

The next step:

  • Call your local city council member or mayor and encourage them to either pass a boom car ordinance, or enforce an existing one. Share the boom car noise ordinance recommendations and the list of communities that have adopted boom car ordinances (see page 6) with them.

For the really committed:

  • Bring five or more people into the Preserve the Peace campaign. We are looking for 1,000 people who will each bring five more concerned citizens into the movement. Check the box on the enclosed return envelope to tell us you want a Preserve the Peace Packet to distribute to your friends and neighbors. If you want more than five, write the number in the space provided.
  • Contribute to the Preserve the Peace fund. Include a donation to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. Help us pay for the work of Preserving the Peace.


So, is there any hope in taking on one of the biggest companies in the world? Absolutely. Here are five reasons why we will succeed.

  1. SONY’s size is their disadvantage. Boom cars are universally hated by everyone but the people driving around in them. The same people that hate boom cars buy thousands of SONY products. The Disturb the Peace advertising campaign is small by SONY standards and would be jettisoned quickly if it were harmful to the larger SONY image. (See the list of SONY products on page 4)
  2. SONY is a guest in our country. SONY is based in Japan, a country legendary for the politeness of its people and for religions that celebrate quiet. SONY doesn’t want to represent either itself or its country as being impolite.
  3. SONY projects itself as an environmentallyfriendly company and wants to protect that image.
  4. Howard Stringer, SONY Corporation of America’s Chairman and CEO, is an environmentalist and by all accounts a nice guy. He was on the Board of Governors of the Nature Conservancy. He has a deep commitment to preserving natural landscapes; we need to convince him to preserve natural soundscapes too.
  5. SONY is worried that Disturb the Peace could be associated with other SONY products. You won’t find Disturb the Peace on SONY’s website. You won’t find it in SONY’s annual report. You only find it in advertisements to selected target markets. And now, with the Preserve the Peace Campaign, it will increasingly be associated with SONY Corporation unless Sony decides to do the right thing.

Do you unknowingly support Sony?

The answer is yes, if you...

Listen to music from these record labels:

Watch movies from these companies:
Sony Classics
Screen Gems

Watch these TV shows:
Battle Dome
Boston Bay
Capeside HS
Classic Charlie's Angels
Couch Potatoes
Dawson's Creek
Days of our Lives
Donny & Marie
Fantasy Island
I Dream of Jeannie
Judge Hatchett
Mad About You
Men In Black: The Series
News Radio
Party of Five
Ricki Lake
Walker Texas Ranger
Wheel of Fortune
Worthington Univ Bookstore
The Young and the Restless

Play games on:
Sony Playstation
Sony Playstation 2

Play any of these Sony games on the internet:
Wheel of Fortune
Trivial Pursuit
Star Wars Galaxies

Buy any of these electronics devices and accessories manufactured by Sony:
Video Cameras
Computer Monitors
CD players (including portable)
DVD players
MiniDisc Players (including portable)
Audio tape players (including portable)
Radios (including portable)
Blank audio tapes and CDs
Floppy disks

Buy products from these Sony subsidiaries:
Columbia House
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications

Sony's average annual sales perhousehold is $160.

Boom Car Basics:
What you and city officials need to know

What is a boom car? Basically, a boom car is any vehicle with a loud stereo system, which almost always requires some modification to the original stereo. More and bigger speakers, capable of playing at much louder volumes, are added to the car. These boom cars are a health and safety risk to the occupants, other drivers, neighbors, and city emergency and rescue personnel.

Most of the generic stereo systems delivered in new cars have radios (with CD players and/or tape players) capable of putting out about a total of 25 watts of power into two pair of little speakers, usually 4 to 6 inches in diameter. These speakers are used to play all the frequencies of the music.


Making a car louder can be cheap and easy, requiring only a hundred-watt stereo amplifier and a couple of efficient low-frequency speakers. Installing the new parts is easy and can require little or no modification to the car. The addition of several speakers and several hundred watts of power may require installation by a specialist and is quite expensive.

In modifying a stereo system, people often start by adding a bass speaker (bass driver) to emphasize the low-frequency notes from the bass and drums in music. They’ll add a crossover, a device which filters signals based on frequency, to separate the low notes from the rest of the music, and an amplifier to drive the added speaker.

After the bass drivers have been added the original speakers are often changed, and more power added, so that what are now the mid-range speakers will play louder. Separate tweeters may also be added, with their own amplifiers and crossovers, to get the high frequencies to play at the same sound pressure levels as the rest of the system. A big system can have multiple bass drivers, and several mid-range drivers and four or more tweeters. After all the amplifiers and speakers have been added to a boom car, a car alarm is often added to safeguard the stereo system that is often worth more than the car.

BOOM CARS BY THE NUMBERS Turning the volume all the way up in a car with its original stereo might produce 100 dB, but mostly you’ll hear a lot of distortion. A typical stationary or slowmoving car with the radio turned off has an interior sound pressure level of 50-60 dB (all measures presented here are with windows shut). Driving the car on the street or highway gives about 60-70 dB — mostly wind, tire and engine noise — inside the car. Drivers generally set their stereo to 6-10 dB over interior noise levels. Therefore, typical interior levels with the stereo playing are 60-80 dB.

Most of the noise of an original stereo system is trapped inside the car, especially when the windows are shut. Sound pressure levels for a typical car are about 40 dB less 50 feet from the car than they are inside the car (measured to the side of the car with speakers in the door). So if you listen to your radio at 70 dB, the outside level is about 30 dB. The noise from the car traveling at 30 mph at 50 feet is about 60 dB, so the resulting stereo levels outside are lost in the background noise.

A boom car, however, really stands out. Boom cars have been measured at sound pressure levels in excess of 170 dB. It is not uncommon for interior levels to exceed 110 dB. In car stereo competitions, loudness points are awarded up to 130 dB. Often these cars are parked in a public area with the doors and trunk open and a party going on nearby. A moving boom car can be heard coming and going for blocks from the listener.

Just as a typical car traps most of the noise from standard sound systems inside the car, most of the outside noises cannot be heard inside a car. The background levels inside the car are already quite high (50-70 dB, possibly 80 dB with a fan and stereo going) and the typical car attenuates or reduces outside noises by about 30 dB. The only outside sounds people need to hear in their car are police, ambulance and emergency sirens as well as horns honked in emergencies. Typical interior sound pressure levels from sirens and horns peak at about 75 dB. At interior car stereo sound pressure levels much greater than 80 dB, emergency warning devices are masked by the sound system. Drivers do not have time to safely react to emergency warnings.


Controlling the noise from boom cars, therefore, is not just an effort to increase community peace and quality of life, but also an effort to enhance public safety and the safety of emergency and rescue personnel. If you can hear a boom car as it passes by at 50 feet, not only is the car disturbing the neighbors and deafening the occupants but it is also masking emergency warning signals.

Typical sound-pressure-level-based noise ordinances are ineffective against boom cars, because the cars are mobile. By the time the police officer goes back to the police station, gets the meter, calibrates it, and takes a measurement, the violator is miles away. In addition, low-frequency noise—the boom of boom cars—is not picked up by sound level meters that are set on the “A” scale, which is used in many communities. There is, however, a simple solution that has been adopted by hundreds of communities that is easy to enforce. In the accompanying article on page 7, Eric Zwerling of the Rutgers Noise Technical Assistance Center describes the “Plainly Audible” standard that has been adopted by hundreds of communities.

Boom Car and Boom Box Code Drafting

Enforcement of a performance (decibel denominated) standard is difficult with boom cars and boom boxes, as the sound is transient and the source is mobile. While some jurisdictions enforce a curbline sound level limit, the enforcement agency must set up in advance in the location at which they suspect a violation may occur. While enforcement and deterrence is extremely effective during the operation of such an enforcement action, it is only effective at the time and in the place this action occurs. Outside of these parameters, deterrence is minimal.

An alternative enforcement standard is required to address this specific sound source, if enforcement is to be regular and predictable, thus providing the desired deterrence. When the deterrent is not successful, the enforcement standard must lead to successful prosecution. After a careful review of precedents and challenges in other jurisdictions, it was clear that any successful standard would have to be objective, specific and easily understood. A “plainly audible” standard has been applied in numerous jurisdictions across the United States, and this standard has been held to be neither vague nor overbroad (State v. Ewing, 914 P.2d 549, Haw. 1996). It is also clearly understandable to those it is intended to regulate. Using this standard, subjective value judgments associated with ordinances that rely on finding a noise “disturbing” or “loud and raucous” are avoided.

A “plainly audible” standard has been applied in numerous jurisdictions across the United States, and this standard has been held to be neither vague nor overbroad



“Plainly audible” means any sound that can be detected by a person using his or her unaided hearing faculties. As an example, if the sound source under investigation is a portable or personal vehicular sound amplification or reproduction device, the enforcement officer need not determine the title of a song, specific words, or the artist performing the song. The detection of the rhythmic base component of the music is sufficient to constitute a plainly audible sound.

Restricted Uses And Activities

  1. Personal or commercial music amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated in such a manner that it is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., sound from such equipment shall not be plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet in any direction from the operator.
  2. Self-contained, portable, hand-held music or sound amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated on a public space or public right-of-way in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., sound from such equipment shall not be plainly audible by any person other than the operator.

These code recommendations come from Eric Zwerling, President of the Noise Consultancy, which specializes in helping communities write enforceable noise ordinances. For a full discussion of this topic, see the paper "Regulation of Amplified Sound Sources" which originally appeared in the Proceedings of Noise-Con 2000. For a copy contact the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse.

Full-Color Insert -- Click here for the PDF version.

Airport Monitor


What are the latest bills concerning airports? Are there any new regulations proposed for your airport? What have your representatives said about aviation noise on the floor of the House or in a congressional hearing? After March 30, 2002 you will find answers to all these questions, plus many more resources, at the NPC’s newest website: AirportMonitor.org.

Airport Monitor is a website developed to inform and facilitate grassroots participation in federal aviation and aviation noise issues. It consists of an online library/database of federal laws, regulations, legislation, executive orders, and rulemakings concerning airports and aviation. Airport Monitor alerts users of all aviation- related notices in the Federal Register on the same day that they are published, and it will alert users of legislation impacting their concerns the day after it’s introduced.

This information is organized into the following categories: aviation, aviation noise, helicopters, and helicopter noise. In addition, there is a category for each of the 100 airports the FAA would most like to expand, so you can follow developments at your local airport.

Airport Monitor will also provide a collection of comments from Senators and Representatives regarding aviation from the Congressional Record as well as transcripts of relevant Committee Reports and Hearings. Finally, it will provide an up to date calendar of all comment periods and due dates related to aviation.

In addition to the website, beginning this summer, Airport Monitor will send registered users an email once a week with a summary of federal government activity at your airport and in your areas of interest (helicopter noise, for example). The email will include a short description of new federal documents with links to the full document on the Airport Monitor site.

Airport Monitor is one more tool to help those impacted most by aviation noise to regain control of a system that is out of control. Beginning in early March, NPC will be testing an early version of the site. We invite you to look at it and let us know what you think. All features should be available by this summer.


On July 14, 2000, at the peak of summer vacations, the FAA quietly released its draft Noise Abatement Policy for a six-week comment period. The policy was last revised 25 years ago and probably won't be revisited for another 25 years. The FAA policy was actually more effective at abating the efforts of noise control activists than abating aviation noise. The policy sought to further limit citizen participation in aviation noise control decisions while allowing more noise and easier expansion at airports.

Unfortunately, because of limited resources and the broad scope of noise problems, no individual or organization in the anti-noise community watches the Federal Register on a daily basis, so the document went unnoticed for nearly two weeks. By the time the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse and other activists had found and assessed the importance of the 25,000-word document, it was too late to begin a direct mail campaign to aviation noise activists. Although we eventually received an extension, the FAA didn't announce the additional six-weeks for comments until the end of August, ensuring that activists had as little time as possible to initiate a large campaign.

Short comment periods that require immediate action are the rule, whether its the FAA's Noise Abatement Policy or the National Park Service’s December 18th release and January 17th deadline for comments on the phase-out of snowmobiles from parks. Each week, environmentalists and airport activists miss opportunities to shape public policy because they do not have the resources to keep informed and immediately mobilize their constituents.

Because of these problems, NPC has been formulating ways to keep better track of comment periods, bills, and rulemakings for more than two years. We know that there are hundreds of airport noise organizations in the same situation. Now, NPC will keep them updated so that they do not have to search the Federal Register, proposed bills, executive orders, and rulemakings on their own.

Airport Monitor will immediately identify opportunities for public participation and enable individuals and groups, when opportunity strikes, to generate hundreds or thousands of comments from like-minded individuals. Next time we will be ready, and so will you and hundreds of other individuals and non-profit organizations.

The Failure of America's Aviation Noise Policy

This spring, the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is releasing a report, The Failure of America’s Aviation Noise Abatement Policy: Citizen’s Top Five Concerns about Aviation Noise. This report is a study of the response to the FAA’s draft Noise Abatement Policy. It is written by Les Blomberg, Executive Director, and James Sharp, Senior Researcher at NPC.

The study exposes the aviation industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), its federal regulatory body, as oblivious of the true impact aviation noise has on the public who live near airports and ignorant of the science of noise impact assessment. Based on the technique of content analysis applied to the 1,261 public comments received by the FAA concerning its draft Noise Abatement Policy 2000, this study finds that the overwhelming majority of commenters believe the FAA’s noise abatement policy is a failure. 96% of the more than one thousand people who submitted comments to the FAA believe the draft Noise Abatement Policy will not adequately protect citizens from aviation noise. The major findings include:

  • Aviation noise is getting worse
  • Nighttime flights and sleep interference are citizens’ greatest concern
  • Aviation noise is imposed on neighbors unjustly
  • Significant impact begins well below the 65 DNL level
  • Local control of airports should be increased

The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is looking for airport noise activists to help publicize this report in local communities. NPC will make about a 1,000 copies of the report available to local activists, and it will also be available on our website at www.nonoise.org/library/failure.htm. The publication date is set for April. NPC will coordinate national media exposure and hopefully local airport activists will also gain local exposure.

To sign up to receive an advance copy of the report so you can be part of the media effort, go to the NPC website (www.nonoise.org/failure/) and fill out the form or call 1-888-200-8332.

Aviation Noise and Safety

September 11th and the tragic crash of a plane in Queens brought a dramatic change in aviation policy and security. For the 7,500 commercial aircraft in the United States, security is a much higher priority. Unfortunately, the 200,000 general aviation aircraft have not received the same attention. When it comes to general aviation, the FAA and aviation industry have taken a “pray it never happens” attitude. This means less safety and more noise for those on the ground. Airport neighbors need to recognize just how closely noise and safety are related.

The airline industry reacted quickly to the September attacks and immediately secured a 15 billion dollar bailout from the US Congress and President Bush. In what many take as a clear signal of relative priorities, the Congress took a lot longer to pass an aviation security bill. Nevertheless, they have begun implementing many of the aviation security measures recommended by the Gore Commission after the crash of Flight 800, solutions that the industry and some of the more conservative members of Congress rejected as unnecessary and too costly just a couple of years ago.

Most of the burden of increased safety has fallen on the public through a decrease in liberties and privacy, and an increase in tax money spent to make the airlines safer. The FAA is much more willing to search your luggage than it is to impose safer flight routes. In the aftermath of the crash in Queens, the FAA is just beginning to realize that it is safer to route planes over water than over homes. Ocean routing and over-water flight paths, which promise to reduce noise and increase safety for millions of people living on both coasts, is not yet being seriously considered.

Nowhere, however, is the resistance to assessing the risks and taking appropriate safety measures as great as in the area of general aviation. The FAA’s Report to Congress, Improving General Aviation Security highlights the problem, but it doesn’t make a single recommendation as to what to do about the problem. The industry’s line is that these planes aren’t big enough to cause the damage done to the World Trade Center.

It doesn’t take a big plane to cause big problems, however. A small crop duster, if flown over a 70,000- person baseball or football stadium — even if it was spraying nothing but water — could initiate panic and chaos sufficient to kill hundreds of people. Even the FAA’s report recognizes the danger of small craft carrying explosives. The report states, “General aviation aircraft could be used to strike ground-based targets. Their load-carrying ability, even if limited, enables the delivery of explosives, compensating for their relative lack of kinetic energy or fuel.” In fact, many general aviation aircraft can carry twice the explosives used to bring down the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The scale of the problem is enormous. “There are over 200,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States operating from over 18,000 airports,” according to the FAA report. Many of these airports have few security measures. And once these aircraft are in the air, it’s like the wild west. They are not restricted from flying over many vulnerable targets. For some there are no minimum height restrictions. And there are no state police or local sheriffs patrolling the sky.

And the problem is growing. As commercial flights become less convenient, companies and the rich are opting out of commercial aviation and purchasing the equivalent of time shares in private aircraft. Barron’s reports, “Since September 11, interest in taking partial ownership in private jets has increased sharply.” Orders are up for planes that do not have to meet Stage III noise requirements and that carry significantly fewer people, which means more noisier planes taking off and landing to move fewer people. This is the next big aviation noise problem.

Private jets are the aircraft best suited to carry explosives and threaten urban buildings, power plants, pipelines, and dams. Before the September attacks, the FAA used to brag that 8,000 aircraft passed within 50 miles of the Empire State Building each day. Now we know that that is a problem. Planes that are not taking off or landing should not be over a metropolitan area, and general aviation aircraft should not be able to fly wherever they want, whenever they want, and without the FAA knowing exactly where they are at all times. This is what the anti-noise-pollution community has been saying for years. It is time we join with the environmental and public safety advocates to reduce noise and increase safety at the same time.

Perhaps the greatest threat from general aviation is to nuclear power plants. On the ground nuclear power plants have fences, barriers, and a security team in place to prevent a Ryder truck bomb from being crashed into the reactor, control building, or radioactive waste. The fences are only 12 feet high, however, and provide absolutely no defense against an airborne attack. There are thick reinforced containment walls around some parts of nuclear plant, but generally not around important facilities that control the operation of the plant and not around the waste.

The Germans have been much more honest about the impacts of air attacks on nuclear plants than the U.S. Government, aviation industry, or nuclear industry. The spokeswoman for the association of German electric power utilities said, “No power plant in the world could withstand an airborne terror attack like the one on September 11.” Edwin Lyman from the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington said, “The possibility of an unmitigated loss-of-coolant accident and significant release of radiation into the environment is a very real one.” Physics Today reports, “Experts fear a commercial commercial jet could breach reactor containment walls.”

Two of the biggest and most powerful industries in the country, the airline and nuclear power industries, are trying to avoid additional restrictions being placed upon them. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), for example, has mounted a multi-million dollar campaign to protect their “right” to fly wherever they want. A recent AOPA fundraising letter highlights an industry that is preparing for future damage control, not for increased public safety. “Even though we are back in the air [after September 11th], I fear the potential ramifications if another incident occurs. The government’s finger is on a button, ready to shut down general aviation once again with even harsher restrictions, if something else happens.”

The AOPA is conducting this type of damage control with political action committees working behind the scenes in Washington. “Our success in reopening airspace [closed after September 11th] is due to AOPA PAC’s efforts.” The letter goes on to state, “Your contribution will also aid AOPA PAC’s efforts to elect more GA [general aviation] allies in Congress and expand our political pull into committees that will have an increasing influence on the future of general aviation.”

The nuclear industry is also working behind the scenes to make sure the threat of an airplane attack does not damage the industry, complicate relicensing, or significantly increase security costs.

Airport noise activists, who are among the best-educated citizens when it comes to aviation, are well suited to help raise safety concerns in their communities, and should team up with environmentalists and public safety advocates to counter irresponsible industry efforts.

Noise activists and environmentalists are not the only ones concerned about aviation safety. The Governors of Vermont and New Hampshire have requested 50 mile no fly zones around nuclear power plants. Representative Anthony Weiner is trying to get the FAA to move flights from over Queens to out over the ocean. The New Jersey Congressional delegation is leading the effort for ocean routing.

With the increase in general aviation, the increased use of private jets, changes in flight paths, and flights over populated areas, aviation safety has become an important issue to aviation noise activists. People should not assume that the FAA is addressing the safety issue, just as they should not assume the FAA is working to solve the noise problem. Currently, pilots are only advised not to loiter over nuclear power plants. Helicopters can still zip in between skyscrapers. Airports continue to get noisier everyday.