SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Citing concerns over airborne lead emissions, community leaders in San Jose called on the County Board of Supervisors to shut down Reid-Hillview Airport, a major hub for flight training and recreational aviation in the South Bay.

“The families in this community have for generations have been put at risk and suffered from the pollution generated by Reid-Hillview,” says San Jose City Councilmember Sylvia Arenas who represents the district near the airport.

A study by the EPA from February of this year found Reid-Hillview exceeded federal airborne lead emissions standards. The report found the highest concentrations of lead in close proximity to the airport near the runways where planes take off and land.

“You want to tell me that flying is more important than poisoning East San Jose children and residents on a daily basis with lead pollution?” says Brisa Rojas who lives in the neighborhood a few blocks from the airport.

Santa Clara County is considering a plan to close the airport and possibly reuse its 180 acres for housing. The FAA and local pilots oppose the closure.

“As pilots, we’re concerned about lead. We live in this environment. We’d like to find better solutions,” says Walter Gyger, Owner of Tradewinds Aviation, a flight school and airplane maintenance and rental company.

Gyger says closing the airport is short-sighted and believes environmental concerns can be addressed.

“Essentially, my business will be closed down. If the airport goes away, I have no business here anymore. Relocating just means restarting the business someplace else,” says Gyger.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will discuss its plans for the airport’s future at its Tuesday board meeting.

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