Sea-Tac International Airport dealing with rat infestation

SeaTac, Wash. — Construction and a growing number of travelers have created a new problem at Sea-Tac International Airport: rats.

More than 120 construction projects are pushing the rats into the terminal. Some of the nearby areas that are under construction haven’t been disturbed in more than 10 years.

More travelers coming through the airport also mean more trash to attract rodents. The airport is working with restaurants to keep the rats out.

“A lot of the food spaces are doing some new deep cleans in their spaces, some of the spaces that are in and around construction, they’ve gotta make sure they have holes sealed up that wildlife may end up getting into,” airport spokesman Perry Cooper said.

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The airport is taking several steps to address the problem: increasing the number of sensors to catch the rodents, adding $449,000 to the port’s pest control program, hiring four new staff members to respond to issues 24/7 and completing improvements on the ceiling structures.

Cooper says travelers might also spot large black boxes around the airport and parking garages which are actually pest traps.

While the issue hasn’t been serious enough to close any of the airport restaurants, Public Health of Seattle & King County is still getting involved. When we reached out for answers, they sent a statement saying:

Our Environmental Health team is aware of the rat issue in the central terminal, and they are providing technical assistance to the facilities to help them address the problem. So far, nothing we've seen has risen to the level of an imminent health threat, and they are making progress on correcting the issue.

Health inspectors are making weekly visits to the airport.

The Port of Seattle says contractors must also take steps to make sure they’re not contributing to the rat problem. Cooper tells KIRO 7 “There are some things they can do ahead of time that can be some pest management opportunities, that then once they start breaking ground or tearing into spaces that haven’t been torn into in a while, can help prevent some of the activity that happens after.”

The airport says travelers can help curb the rodent infestation as well, making sure not to leave trash laying around and notifying airport employees if they see a rodent.

Sea-Tac says over the last five years they’ve updated their pest control program to make it more unified as opposed to leaving it up to each individual tenant.

KIRO 7 reached out to some of the restaurants inside the central terminal, but the only one that responded referred us to airport media relations.