EPA May Regulate Plane Deicing Runoff

by | Sep 29, 2009

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aircraft_deicingAirports across the U.S. soon may be forced to take steps to prevent the millions of gallons of airplane wing deicer from reaching waterways, now that the Environmental Protection Agency has put the practice in its sights.

Until now, use of the deicing chemicals has flown under the radar, with many airports taking no steps to mitigate runoff of the chemicals, most often propylene glycol and ethylene glycol, reports AP, via Yahoo.

Some of the nation’s largest airports, including John F. Kennedy in New York City and O’Hare in Chicago, allow the chemicals to drain off the tarmac uncollected. Deicing chemicals that leach into waterways have been known to turn streams orange and make them devoid of life.

The Natural Resources Defense Council sued New York because of deicing chemicals from JFK that flow unimpeded into the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, according to the article.

If the EPA proposal goes through, JKF, O’Hare, Cleveland-Hopkins International, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, Boston Logan International and LaGuardia Airport in New York would have to install deicing pads or collection systems to contain at least 60 percent of the fluid that is sprayed. After collecting the fluids, the airports would need to assure that the runoff is treated to remove toxins.

EPA is taking comments on the proposal through Dec. 28.

The American Association of Airport Executives criticized the proposed rules, calling them “unnecessary,” adding that there are existing rules from the EPA and state agencies that cover deicing discharges.

The EPA took to the issue after reports of deicing fluids spoiling waterways near the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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