In Preparation for F1, EPA Takes to the Skies Over Austin

Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images

Johnny Cecotto Jr. of Venezuela and testing for Scuderia Toro Rosso participates in the F1 Young Driver Test at Yas Marina Circuit on November 7, 2012 in Abu Dhabi.

More than a hundred thousand visitors are descending upon Austin this weekend for the Formula One race. Increased air traffic has some worrying about the carbon footprint of the event, but there’s one plane that may seem out of place.

It belongs to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it will take to the skies today and throughout the weekend to monitor chemical and radiation levels in town and around the track.

Why? The agency says is for security and to monitory air quality. Today’s flight will get a baseline reading, and if levels go up, the EPA will know it.

“For large event there is always a concern of terrorism,” Lisa Block, a public information officer with Travis County Emergency Services tells StateImpact Texas’ lead station, KUT.

“An event like the Super Bowl is an event that the EPA would monitor for any kind of terrorist activity,” Block says. “And one of the things you have to worry about with such a large event is the fact that they could set off a dirty bomb or something that would cause radiological waste to enter the air. The EPA is checking for that kind of thing, just to be sure.”

The EPA that the plane, and Aero Command 680, will be flying as low as 500 feet above ground, and will be marked clearly with ‘U.S. EPA’ on both wings. And it will be flying in the early morning hours to boot. You can read more over at KUT.

Previously: Why a Truly ‘Green’ Car Race Might Not Be Possible For Formula One

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