Gilchrest pushes for hearings on dumping of de-icing fluids and plane fuel over BWI

March 25, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Congress will hold hearings on the dumping of fuel over Baltimore-Washington International Airport and on the runoff of plane de-icing fluids into waterways near the airport if Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest gets his way.

Gilchrest, who met with Federal Aviation Administration officials yesterday to go over a report he had requested from them about jet fuel jettisoned over the neighborhoods around BWI, said later he has decided to press for hearings on that issue. He has added de-icing procedures to the agenda of the inquiry he wants as a result of a tour he made of the airport Friday.

He was struck, he said, by the inability of FAA and airport officials to explain to him what de-icing fluids contain.

Maryland Department of the Environment "also doesn't know," said Gilchrest, who represents communities near the airport. "And BWI says they can't find out because it's a closely guarded industry secret. I feel there needs to be some oversight on these issues."

The Natural Resources Defense Council in New York and three other groups filed a lawsuit last week claiming that BWI has polluted three Linthicum creeks with the de-icing mixture used on planes.

Gilchrest said he is preparing a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting information on the chemicals in de-icing fluid. He said the letter also will ask questions about what happens to fuel when it is dumped at high altitudes, whether it affects the ozone layer or causes other harm.

The congressman began pushing for hearings on fuel dumping after a January incident where a plane making an emergency landing at BWI accidentally dumped jet fuel on a mother and child in Glen Burnie.

"We support what he's trying to find out about it," said airport spokeswoman Marilyn Corbett. "It's not just a local issue. It's a national issue."

Gilchrest said he was pleased that since the incident, airport officials have created a flier explaining fuel dumping procedures and treatment for people sprayed by jet fuel.

Jim Douglas, executive vice president of World Airways, the airline involved in the accident, declined comment.

"We have said everything we are going to say," he said.

During Gilchrest's meeting yesterday with FAA officials, they briefed him on a report they compiled about dumping practices across the country. Gilchrest said they told him that of the estimated 6 million flights that occur each year, there have only been an average of 127 midair fuel dumping accidents annually during the past three years.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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