When jet fuel falls Anne Arundel: After complaint about dumping incident, officials move to inform airport neighbors.

July 08, 1998

DUMPED jet fuel typically evaporates before it hits the ground. Most people don't know that. They may suspect that dumped fuel is considered a fire hazard, but they might not realize that it can be cleaned off cars, pets and skin with a mild detergent.

This information and more are contained in a brochure the Maryland Aviation Administration is distributing to libraries, schools and community associations located around Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The dumping of 100 gallons of jet fuel last Jan. 20, caused by a malfunctioning valve on a World Airways flight, was the first such incident anyone can recall happening near BWI. But a mother and son, who were showered by the fuel, experienced a moment of panic.

They didn't know what the liquid from the sky was that coated them and their car. Unfortunately, when they called the airport, they couldn't get quick answers, either.

To its credit, the aviation administration acknowledged that its response to this unusual incident was inadequate.

By issuing the brochure, the aviation agency is responding appropriately to the public's lack of information regarding jet fuel discharges.

Written in straightforward language, the four-page pamphlet poses eight questions, with answers.

The questions include "Are jet fuels health hazards?" and "What first aid procedures should be followed?" This information should help allay some fears of people who live around the airport's perimeter or along its flight paths.

People can obtain information or report fuel discharges 24 hours a day by calling the Maryland Department of the Environment's Emergency Response Division at 410-974-3551, or the aviation administration at 410-859-7111.

Perhaps last winter's incident won't be repeated. However, if a plane should happen to spray a neighborhood, residents and airport officials will be better prepared to deal with the complications and explanations.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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