EPA Finalizes Ground De-icing Fluid Effluent Limitations

 - July 5, 2012, 12:20 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized new regulations that will provide relief to airports where de-icing fluid is used. The EPA had proposed more stringent de-ice effluent limitations in 2009, but the agency has incorporated voluntary pollution-reduction programs, according to the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA). The new regulations apply to pavement and aircraft de-icing and establish technology-based standards for new airports built after the rule goes into effect.

According to the EPA, “Existing and new primary airports with 1,000 or more annual jet departures (non-propeller aircraft) that generate wastewater associated with airfield pavement de-icing are to use non-urea-containing de-icers, or alternatively, meet a numeric effluent limitation for ammonia.”

For new airports with 10,000 or more annual departures in certain cold climate zones, the requirement is for the airport “to collect 60 percent of aircraft de-icing fluid after de-icing.” The EPA will also require that “Airports that discharge the collected aircraft de-icing fluid directly to waters of the U.S. must also meet numeric discharge requirements for chemical oxygen demand.” There is an alternative Type 1 deicing fluid, Ecoflo, made by Clariant/Octagon Process of Mt. Holly, N.C., that offers 25 percent lower chemical oxygen demand than typical de-icing fluids as well as other environmental benefits.

For existing airports, there is no specific requirement for de-icing fluid discharges. “Such requirements will continue to be established in general permits, or for individual permits on a site-specific basis,” according to the EPA.

According to the ACI-NA, “The EPA further supported the industry’s voluntary pollution-reduction program, heralding its ‘potential to significantly reduce aircraft de-icing discharges in a safe manner.’ As such, the agency further agreed that applying such standards to aircraft de-icing at existing airports would be impracticable and deliver few benefits.”