SANTA CLARA COUNTY, California — Leaded aviation fuel is no longer available at Reid-Hillview Airport in East San José and San Martin Airport.
A Jan. 6, 2022, press release from the county noted that only unleaded fuel will be sold at the airfields.
The County Board of Supervisors voted to stop leaded fuel sales in August, following the release of a study that linked ongoing use of leaded aviation gas with elevated lead exposure for the 13,000 children living near Reid-Hillview Airport, the press release noted.
“The county-commissioned study found that if leaded emissions (and the related adverse impact on IQ and cognition) ended, children living near the airport would realize a gain of $11 million to $25 million in lifetime earnings,” country officials said in the press release.
The move makes Reid-Hillview and San Martin likely the first airports in the nation to stop carrying 100LL, county officials added.
“We are thrilled to be a vanguard for the move to unleaded aviation fuel,” said County Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman. “The future of general aviation airports will not be tainted by toxic lead fumes, and we look forward to seeing more and more airfields across the nation make the switch to unleaded aviation gas.”
County officials add that while 100LL fuel sales have been banned at the two airports, pilots who are still flying with leaded fuel can continue to fly into the airports.
Four airfield operators that provide services to pilots at Reid-Hillview have entered into contracts with the county that restrict fuel sales to unleaded only. A limited amount of leaded fuel that remains in one of the fuel tanks at Reid-Hillview will be used by flight school aircraft until it is depleted later this month, and it will not be replenished, country officials said.
The county issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) in December to ensure pilots nationwide are notified of the change in fuel availability at Reid-Hillview and San Martin Airports. The notification will remain in the FAA NOTAM system for the next year.
The unleaded fuel available at Reid-Hillview and San Martin is 94 octane and is FAA-certified as safe for use in approximately 68% of the piston-powered aircraft that use the Reid-Hillview and San Martin airports, county officials added.
In late December 2021, the FAA advised the county that it has begun an investigation into the ban of 100LL, as well as other “ongoing safety issues” at the airports.
A couple of points. There is a mass exodus of higher income folks leaving California, probably a good percentage of which are white. While this hurts development and housing needs over time at least California can become more a State of color assuming it remains a State. As for those dumbed down local County Commissioners sounds like they are a product of sniffing the 100LL and suffer IQ issues. This whole country is going to hell in a hand basket.
Radical, senseless misguided and ignorant folks making decisions like this. At what point is enough enough. Someone, very wealthy, needs to open another airport near by and sell all the 100LL they can at a reduced rate. Very depressing news indeed.
The FAA should sue the Counties and State of California for repayment of any and all FAA Grants and Funding ever administered to these Airports and prohibit them from any and all FAA Federal Funding going forward.
Obviously they can afford it since they are going to make $25 Million by not selling Low Leaded fuel! Go Woke Go Broke!
Ken Smith says
As a Medevac operator, I wonder if their “study” factored in the fact that operators like me will not be servicing those airports if someone needs medical evacuation?
Steve Ferguson says
It’s time to ban toothpaste, because there are 7 harmful ingredients in the average tube according to Google. Hopefully nobody gets killed running out of fuel while operating out of those two sad excuses for airports in CA!
JimH in CA says
I remember in the 60’s that toothpaste tubes were lead or tin-lead. We would save them, melt the lead and cast toys from molds we had.
A few years later they converted to a plastic tube….
Ken T says
Running out of fuel would be a stupid error on the pilot’s part and can’t be blamed on the lack of fuel availability at the airport. There are a great many GA airports that have never had fuel available (including my home base) and planes based there don’t fall out of the sky for lack of a fuel pump. We plan accordingly. Just like a real pilot.
The 32% of affected planes at those fields will just have to top off at another nearby field. Inconvenient but certainly doable.
It’s not the end of the world. At least they’re not shutting down the fields and turning them into office parks.
John Moss says
Yes, its true that nearby airports still have fuel available. BUT, this is just the beginning. If they have their way, those “nearby” airports won’t have any fuel available for long. By the way, lead is a lubricant. Our air cooled piston jobs were made to run on leaded fuel. Curious to see the long term effects (especially on the valves, guides, etc.) of running them on fuel without it. Load up your family and put it to the test, they say..
John Moss says
Its true that there’s fuel available at other nearby airports. BUT, this is just the beginning. If they have their way, the “nearby” airports won’t have any 100LL fuel available either. Then what?
By the way – Lead is a lubricant. Our air-cooled piston jobs were made to run on leaded fuel. I’m curious to know what the long term effects will be, (for valves, guides, etc.). Just load up the plane with our families and see what happens, I guess..
Gary Williamson says
Ken T. , You are correct as to the planes that do require 100LL fuel they will find it else ware. I am not sure where you came up with 32%, I must have missed something. Your comment about not shutting down the airfields yet, that will come just as soon as the county can figure out how this can be done. The county has been wanting to shut down RHV for years. Removing leaded fuel is just a step closer to their goal.
Ken T says
Gary, the 32% was a simple calculation derived from the article.
Ken, that’s where you err. The fact is that closing the airport is EXACTLY what the goal is. The lead complaint is merely a crutch, an excuse they use to close Reid-Hillview.
I suggest that you, and others, visit the Santa Clara County website and you will see links to the study, and to the EPA study which identifies the airports across the country where they have positioned lead monitors. Now the EPA has stated that leaded fuel has to go.
The study that the Supervisors used in already deciding to close KRHV is a Belgium study that showed a correlation between airborne lead levels and I.Q. levels of children. The local study, performed by a person compensated by the County, stated that the increase in lead levels had a direct correlation to lower I.Q. levels, thus hampering learning. Immediately locals claimed this use of lead in fuel was racist because the area is almost totally Hispanic, and that by suppressing the I.Q. of children it ensures that the white man (who doesn’t live near KRHV) will have kids who have higher grades than the local kids and the white kids will get into college, ensuring higher incomes for life and suppressing the income of the local kids who will be forced into menial jobs.
Kevin Rowe says
This is pure corruption. What they swept under the rug was the fact that they found much higher lead content in soil samples in the county that was nowhere near an airport and that the levels here are within the county average. They have had a grudge with RHV as they want their take from developers who want to use this area for housing. This has nothing to do with the safety and well being of the citizens of Santa Clara county….just pure selfish greed.
Not quite, Kevin. The damning thing was the lead monitor downwind of the run up area which did show above EPA acceptable levels. You can picture students and instructors sitting, engine idling, not burning all the fuel, discussing their proposed flight. There might be five or more planes in that area at a time. The obvious result is exaggerated — but ater this the EPA placed lead monitors at many GA airports across the country and now has published a mandate to eliminate leaded fuel.
Let every reader here understand — the leaded fuel complaint is a lever to close the airport. Cindy Chavez, the head of the Board of Supervisors and now candidate for Mayor, dislikes the airport and wants it closed. The lead issue walked right into her net and the Board is using it as a lever to close Reid-Hillview Airport.
Rick Dean says
These county commissioners seem to be operating under a reduced IQ.
These guys can run the numbers and determine the lifetime loss of income do to ‘brain activity slowdown’ because children near the airport ingested lead vapors right? The county commissioners finely WOKE up and banned the gas. The airport was there first, why not ban the kids or post warning signs. I personally believe the crop of kids with lower IQ’s likely are the products of the current school system in that area.
JimH in CA says
So the aircraft based there that need 100LL, will be buying fuel elsewhere and will continue to fly in and out of R-H and San Martin as before. The airports will just lose the revenue from the fuel sales.
Or pilots will tanker in their fuel…and refuel with 100LL at their hangar
Thus they want to close the airport. One Supervisor in a call in said “Any lead is unacceptable”.
Understand that all they want is to close the airport.