BWI makes plan to reduce the pollution caused from runoff during plane deicing

January 07, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The state Aviation Administration will spend $13.4 million over the next two years to reduce by more than half the amount of deicing fluid that drains from runways at Baltimore-Washington International Airport into two streams.

One of the streams, Muddy Bridge Branch, is in the Sawmill Creek Watershed, one of four watersheds the state has targeted in its plan to improve water quality in waterways leading to the Chesapeake Bay. The other is Kitten Branch. Water from both eventually flows into the Patapsco River.

Administration officials presented a plan for the controls at a hearing yesterday as part of the anticipated renewal of the airport's Maryland Department of the Environment permit. The current five-year permit will expire in May.

Deicing fluid contains glycols, similar to antifreeze, which rob streams of their oxygen and harm aquatic life. But the Federal Aviation Administration recently strengthened aircraft deicing requirements after plane crashes were blamed on inadequate deicing.

Airport officials said their plan sets a goal of reducing the deicing runoff by 62 percent in 1996, although neither federal nor state agencies have standards for the discharge. Between 30,000 and 180,000 gallons of deicing compound are used annually at the airport, depending on the weather.

Nobody at the hearing yesterday testified, but some said they came to get information.

"I'm just trying to be informed," said Lynn Cegelski of the Sawmill Creek Watershed Association. "They say this will be better. That sounds good to me."

The airport will begin building the first phase of the controls this spring. It should be ready by next winter and is expected to halve the runoff, said Michael West, head of BWI's office of

planning and engineering. The second phase, which will further reduce it, will be ready for the winter of 1995-1996.

The airport will build two deicing pads, which will collect the runoff. It will buy five vacuum sweepers, similar to Zambonis used to clear ice rinks, for five other deicing locations around the airport and build 12 monitoring sites to check the effectiveness of the controls. The collected runoff will be taken to the Baltimore City sewage treatment plant, Mr. West said.

According to Airports Council International -- North America, many of the larger and newer airports in the country recover some of their deicing fluid runoff and several in Europe recycle theirs.

Only last year did the federal Environmental Protection Agency require airports to develop storm water management plans. EPA set no standards, but requires airports to institute the best runoff control plans they can. BWI is among the first airports to develop a plan.

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