Next ‘miracle’ may be disaster, LGA critics say

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BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES

This Sunday, Jan. 15, will be the three-year anniversary of the day Capt. Chesley Sullenberger narrowly averted disaster when two Canadian geese nearly downed his plane after it took off from LaGuardia airport.

Some New Yorkers are worried that another similar incident might be waiting to happen.

A group called Friends of LaGuardia was in court Friday, pushing ahead a 2011 lawsuit to stop the city from building a planned garbage facility 735 yards from one of LaGuardia’s runways. The group, which counts former deputy mayor Randy Mastro as its lead attorney, says the North Shore Marine Transfer Station will attract birds, all flocking to the estimated 3,000 tons of garbage the facility will handle every day.

Friends of LaGuardia appeared in federal court Friday to argue their case. Ken Paskar, who runs the group, said the Federal Aviation Authority is not doing its job to protect airports from potential bird strikes. 

“Have you ever stood on the beach and thrown a potato chip in the air? A hundred birds come,” he said. “One potato chip brings a whole flock. Three thousand tons is insane.”

Paskar said that spikes to prevent perching will just force birds up — and into planes. “There’s nowhere for them to go but into the path of arriving aircraft,” he said.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the facility has been vetted by the FAA. “This transfer station will absolutely not increase the risk of bird strikes,” said mayoral spokeswoman Julie Wood. “Anyone who says otherwise is scaring people for no good reason.”

Construction on the facility is 65 percent done, and it is scheduled to open in 2013.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro


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