New Rule Would Lower Impact of Airport Deicing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule that would make deicing practices on aircraft and at airport runways more environmentally friendly while maintaining operational safety.

Discharges from deicing operations at airports can have major impacts on water quality, causing reductions in wildlife, contamination of drinking water sources, and impacts in residential areas and parkland. EPA is proposing requirements for control of the wastewater associated with the deicing of aircraft and pavement at more than 200 commercial airports nationwide.

The agency estimates that six major airports, which are among the largest users of aircraft deicing fluid, would likely install centralized deicing pads to comply with the proposed requirements. Airports using lesser amounts of deicing fluid would collect 20 percent of the spent fluid with technologies such as glycol recovery vehicles. The estimated 50 airports that currently use urea to deice runways would use more environmentally friendly deicers or reduce the discharges of ammonia from continued use of urea. A number of airports in the country already comply with the proposed requirements.

EPA and states would incorporate the proposed requirements into stormwater permits. The agency has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has determined that, if implemented, this regulation would have no impact on the safe operation of airplanes or runways that are treated for snow and/or icing conditions.

The proposed rule is open for public comment for 120 days following publication in the Federal Register.

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