Airport Execs Oppose EPA Deicing Rules

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New rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to control runoff from aircraft deicing fluids would "create safety hazards at many airports," the American Association of Airport Executives says. Under the proposed rules, airports with more than 10,000 annual aircraft departures and 1,000 annual jet departures would be required to re-capture up to 60 percent of the fluid, rather than allow it to drain off the pavement, where it can end up in nearby rivers, lakes, streams and bays. AAAE says the proposal doesn't allow airports enough time to comply, would impose financial burdens, and the use of additional fluid recovery vehicles around crowded gate areas could cause safety issues. "Safe airport deicing procedures are paramount to winter weather practices," said AAAE Director of Regulatory Affairs Leslie Riegle. The EPA says stricter rules are needed because airport discharges from deicing operations can affect water quality. Impacts include fish kills, contaminated drinking water, and noxious odors in residential areas and parks, among other effects.

Airports affected by the new rules would be required to collect spent aircraft deicing fluid and treat the wastewater. They may either treat the wastewater onsite or send it to an offsite treatment contractor or publicly operated wastewater treatment facility. Some airports would be required to reduce the amount of ammonia discharged from urea-based airfield pavement deicers or use more environmentally friendly airfield deicers that do not contain urea. EPA says it expects compliance with the proposed regulation would reduce the discharge of deicing-related pollutants by at least 44.6 million pounds per year, and the annual cost of the rule would be an estimated $91.3 million.