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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed 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.
EPA 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% 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 EPA 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.
EPA is proposing technology-based effluent standards for discharges from airport deicing operations. The requirements generally would apply to wastewater associated with the deicing of aircraft and airfield pavement at primary commercial airports. Airports that conduct aircraft deicing operations, have 1,000 or more annual jet departures, and 10,000 or more total annual departures, would be required to collect spent aircraft deicing fluid and treat the wastewater. These facilities could either treat the wastewater on-site or send it to an off-site treatment contractor or publicly owned treatment works. 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.
The Administrator signed the following notice on August 17, 2009, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register.
The proposed rule is open for public comment for 120 days following publication in the Federal Register.
More information on the airport deicing proposed rule: http://www.epa.gov/guide/airport/