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Water: Aviation

Proposed Effluent Guidelines for Airport Deicing - Airport Deicing Effluent Guidelines

Fact Sheet; 821-F-09-001; August 2009

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. EPA expects this regulation to reduce pollutant discharges by over 40 million pounds per year, at an annual cost of about $90 million. This regulation would not affect the safe operation of airplanes that are treated for icing conditions.


Background on Airport Deicing

Airlines and airports conduct deicing operations on aircraft and airfield pavement to ensure the safety of passenger and cargo flights. These deicing operations use large amounts of chemicals, which may drain off airport facilities to nearby rivers, lakes, streams and bays. Airport discharges from deicing operations can have major impacts on water quality, including reductions in dissolved oxygen, reduced organism abundance and species diversity, contamination of drinking water sources, creation of noxious odors and discolored water in residential areas and parkland, and other effects.


Background on Effluent Guidelines

Effluent guidelines are national regulations that control the discharge of pollutants to surface waters and to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Effluent guidelines are specific to an industry. EPA has issued effluent guidelines for 56 industries that include many types of discharges, such as manufacturing and service industries. These guidelines are implemented in discharge permits issued by states and EPA regional offices under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.


Summary of Proposed Rule

This proposed effluent guideline addresses wastewater collection practices used by airports, and treatment of those wastes. 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. They may either treat the wastewater on-site or send it to an off-site treatment contractor or POTW. 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.

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Additional Information

For additional information, please contact Eric Strassler (strassler.eric@epa.gov), Project Manager, at 202-566-1026.

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