Islip Town Officials Determine Airport to Be Safe

After meeting for hours yesterday to discuss reports of serious fire hazards at Long Island MacArthur Airport, town officials said they have determined that the airport and the Southwest Airlines terminal are safe.

However, the town officials said some aspects of the construction at the airport and in the terminal would be "re-examined in order to confirm that they comply with the various code requirements."

"If it is determined that corrective measures are deemed necessary, they will be undertaken immediately," newly appointed Islip Town Supervisor Eric Hofmeister said in a statement.

Newsday reported yesterday that investigators from the Suffolk district attorney's office found fire hazards in the new Southwest Airlines terminal serious enough to cause an explosion.

In addition, investigators found that natural-gas pipes are located underneath air conditioning intake manifolds, which could allow gas to be drawn into the ventilation system.

According to law enforcement sources, the district attorney's office felt the potential hazards were serious enough to temporarily halt its criminal probe into corruption at the airport to warn the town.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota, said investigators believe the hazards pose a "risk to the health and safety of the airport workers, employees and the traveling public. And the town should think about addressing some of these shortcomings now."

Spota said Tuesday that sprinklers, rather than a chemical fire-suppression system, had been installed in the terminal's main electrical control room.

That is a potential problem because water could cause electricity to arc, leading to electrocution.

Town Attorney Pierce Cohalan said the town has been fully cooperative in the 6-month-old criminal investigation.

Suffolk County Legis. Cameron Alden (R-Islip) yesterday lashed out at town board members for not showing leadership about the airport.

"The revelations there are quite disturbing and horrific," said Alden. "People's lives are in jeopardy, and you've got public officials that don't want to take any responsibility and didn't want to take responsibility at the time."

Councilwoman Pamela Greene, a candidate for town supervisor in November, declined to respond to Alden's comments. She said town officials were being "very proactive" by meeting yesterday at the airport.

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