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Amazon Prime cargo hub at CVG Airport, Kentucky, USA

Residents living near the construction site of an Amazon Air Hub at CVG Airport filed a class action lawsuit after months of complaints about excessive dust, noise and shock waves from blasting works. An ironworker was killed in an accident at the site.


Complaints about blasting works at the construction site of an Amazon air cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) were reported in February 2020. Don Jones, president of a heating business, living less than a mile away from the site, said the foundations of his business premises were crumbling due to the blasting, which had been occurring every day since mid-2019.[1] More than a dozen homeowners living near the Amazon air cargo hub site said that construction works by Trumbull Corporation had caused ‘irreversible damage’ to their basements, roofs, drywall, flooring and stairs. Resident Kelly Brock said, “You can feel the entire house shake” and that blasting was affecting a larger area than acknowledged. Another resident, Lauri Mayleben, said residents were never notified that the blasting would occur. She requested blasting records from Trumbull but did not receive the information.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Amazon Prime cargo hub at CVG Airport, Kentucky, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Kentucky
Location of conflict:Boone Country
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In January 2017 Amazon signed a long-term lease with CVG to develop an air cargo hub. The lease involved airport land that Amazon had rented for at least 50 years. In exchange Amazon received $40 million in state and local tax incentives for the project and an additional $5 million from the airport. In January 2018 Amazon acquired a further 85 hectares of land for the air cargo hub.[8] Site preparation activity and ground-breaking for Phase 1, on land immediately south of the airport, began in spring 2019. The Amazon Air Hub project is supported by the State of Kentucky and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The project investment is $1.5 billion. The ‘South development’ area covers approximately 263 hectares of land and is scheduled for completion in 2021. Project plans include 74,000 square meters of sort facility and auxiliary buildings and 24 aircraft parking positions enabling Amazon to operate up to 32 aircraft out of CVG with a total of 64 daily flights. Full build out of the South development increases the sort facility and auxiliary building area to 240,000 square meters and the number of aircraft parking positions to 100 and is scheduled for completion in 2026. A 192 hectare land parcel is earmarked for a ‘North development option’.[9] According to a Bloomberg Business News article Amazon’s new hub at CVG, able to accommodate as many as 200 flights per day, ‘appears to be the linchpin to Amazon’s efforts to develop a comprehensive array of domestic delivery services’, providing a central hub enabling the firm to compete with ‘entrenched players’, i.e. UPS and FedEx.[10] Facilities for sorting and transshipping to distant cities will enable CVG to become Amazon Air’s ‘superhub’. The State of Kentucky is building a new interchange on the Interstate-275 (I-275) highway to support the Amazon Air hub at CVG.[11]

Project area:455.3
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,500,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:05/02/2020
Company names or state enterprises:Amazon from United States of America - Developer of air cargo hub
Whiting-Turner from United States of America - Contracted to build Amazon cargo hub at CVG Airport, joint venture with Kokosing Construction Company
Kokosing Construction Company from United States of America - Contracted to build Amazon cargo hub at CVG Airport, joint venture with Whiting-Turner
Columbus Steel Erectors from United States of America - Subcontractor working on Amazon air hub project at CNG
Trumbull Corporation from United States of America - Construction works including blasting
Relevant government actors:Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) -
State of Kentucky
Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet
Kentucky Department of Natural Resources
Boone County
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Kenton County Airport Board
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ironworkers Local 44 -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
trade union Ironworkers Local 44 (workplace accident)
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Global warming, Oil spills, Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsDust and damage to buildings from blasting works
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Occupational disease and accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsOn 2nd February 2020 an ironworker working at the Amazon air hub project was killed in a workplace accident. The 46-year old man, Loren Shoemake, died from blunt force trauma.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Reports of residents and businesses complaining about dust, noise and excessive shock waves from the construction site of the Amazon ar hub were reported in the press February 2020 but people had reported problems since mid-2019. Repeated incidences of damage to buildings and prolonged stress from dust and noise were not addressed and two residents resorted to a lawsuit seeking to allow residents living within one mile of the project to file a class action lawsuit seeking punitive damages.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[5] Class action lawsuit filed for homeowners near Amazon air hub construction site at CVG Airport, 26th May 2020
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[11] Joseph P Schweitwerman and Jacob Wells, Insights into Amazon Air: 2020’s Transportation Juggernaut, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, 22 May 2020
[click to view]

[1] Businesses and homeowners blame structural damage on Amazon hub construction blasting, WCPO, 5 February 2020
[click to view]

[2] Burlington residents: Detonations at Amazon Air Hub construction site damaging homes, Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 February 2020
[click to view]

[3] Court complaint seeks class-action lawsuit against Amazon Prime Air contractors at CVG, Cincinnati Enquirer, 27 May 2020
[click to view]

[4] ‘It’s been a nightmare’: Class action lawsuit takes on blasting at Amazon construction site, WCPO, 28 May 2020
[click to view]

[6] Worker killed at $1.5B Amazon airport project in Kentucky, Construction Dive, 3 February 2020
[click to view]

[8] Amazon buys 210 acres of land for its new cargo jet fleet hub (Video), The Business Journals, 12 January 2018
[click to view]

[9] Amazon Air Hub at CVG, CVG Airport
[click to view]

[10] Amazon Prime Air will grow to 200 planes, rival UPS, study says, Bloomberg, 22 May 2020
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[7] NKY union leader calls worker who died building Amazon's Prime Air hub at CVG Airport a 'great guy', WLWT, 3 February 2020
[click to view]

Emails shed light on Amazon hub blasting damage to people's homes and businesses, WCPO 9, 3 March 2020
[click to view]

Residents say homes damaged due to blasting at Amazon construction site, LOCAL 21, 7 February 2020
[click to view]

Video showing trees cleared between 2015 and 2019 for Amazon Air hub at CVG Airport, The Environmental Impact of Amazon's 1-Day Shipping, NKY DIY, 8 July 2019
[click to view]

History of citations and inspections related to claims by home and business owners that blasting at Amazon's air hub construction site damaged their property without warning

Ky. documents show history of citations, inspections at Amazon air hub site, WCPO 9, 2 April 2020
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, [email protected]
Last update13/08/2020
Conflict ID:5078
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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