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Demonstrators march to Truax Field gates against F-35s in Madison

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MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time since military officials announced Madison was in the running to house F-35s, protesters took their message to the front gates of Truax Field.

Madison is the top choice for a future home of F-35 fighter jets, but protesters came with a simple message.

"Take those planes and go away," they chanted.

For more than a year, Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin has been a vocal group of opponents to the bed down of the F-35s in Madison.

Many of the protesters have a stake in keeping the jets out.

"I live in the Eken Park neighborhood and my home is in the 65 Db zone, which renders a home incompatible with residential use," Tehmina Islam, one of the speakers, said.

Supporters of the F-35s with the Badger Air Community Council say the protesters have every right to make their voices hear, but they're spreading misinformation.

"This is a worst case scenario type of approach that the Air Force takes whenever they do an environmental survey," Mike Moore with the Badger Air Council said. "We know, for example, that the number of flights will be nowhere near what the EIS states."

One of the biggest concerns with having the jets at Truax is groundwater contamination.

"If there was construction to happen at Truax for this project it potentially impacts large scales of groundwater where there could be more PFAS, if you drink water then this is your issue," Islam said.

The Badger Air Council says that's because of the firefighting foam that the base uses for training and at the airport and is a challenge the whole country is dealing with.

"If I lived in that area I would be concerned about my family having clean air and clean drinking water," Moore said. "That's the kind of thing I think can get sensationalized."

While Madison is the number one choice for the jets, no decision has yet been made.

The Air Force Secretary is accepting comments on the final EIS until the end of March, after that they will make their choice.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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