Deicing Regs Coming

Aug. 27, 2008
Effluent guidelines NPRM expected by November

In late July, Airports Council International and the Air Transport Association co-hosted a conference at which pending regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency on effluent limitation guidelines of deicing operations were a major focus.

According to ACI-NA’s Jessica Steinhilber, senior director of environmental affairs, EPA is currently undergoing an inter-agency review process of what they are proposing to regulate; thus, they were not on hand to offer their views to airports and airlines at the conference.

Comments Steinhilber, “We met with them a couple of times earlier this year, and they went through their initial thinking on how the rule might be generally structured. They initially indicated a three-part rule, the first part being a collection standard for applied aircraft deicer. With the actual amount to be collected, they initially proposed possibly three tiers. We don’t know what it will be based on; it could be based on the amount of deicer that’s been applied at the airport.

“The next piece would be a standard for discharges of runoff to surface water; that would be a numeric limit. We don’t know what that number is, or what the parameters. They initially said it might be chemical oxygen demand, but we don’t know.

“The last piece of it is, and the only one addressing pavement deicing, would be some kind of restriction or possibly a ban of the use urea in the runway deicer.”

For those who thought their Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) plans would suffice, Steinhilber relates that that’s a common view among airports, airlines, and service companies. Industry’s charge, she says, is to educate the regulators that many airports already have the capture of deicing fluids under control.

In 2006, EPA surveyed some 153 airports with an 80-plus page survey of their airfield deicing activities. It followed that with two surveys of airline operations. It was an effort to gauge industry on where it was when it came to deicing, with a new regulation already top of mind.

Says Steinhilber, “That was more of a data collection effort; the industry was already kind of on target for a rule.”

She says EPA has indicated it plans to release a notice of proposed rulemaking by this November, with a final rule by late 2009.