Friday, March 11, 2016

Friedman Memorial Airport (KSUN) to test for de-icing agent runoff

This image shows the site where airplanes are de-iced (Area 4), the drain runoff goes into, and a grassy area where excess runoff can ultimately collect.

Friedman Memorial Airport will test airport runoff areas for concentrations of de-icing chemical and may monitor the impact of airport activity on noise and air quality.

Permission to conduct the tests and examine the feasibility of noise and air-quality monitoring was granted by the Airport Authority board during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Airport Manager Rick Baird said the airport regularly uses controlled amounts of de-icer on the airport’s runway and taxiway, ensuring that aircraft can take off and land safely during icy conditions.

Baird said Cryotech E36, a potassium acetate solution, is applied to the airport runway to break down ice and snow for removal by plow or broom. Cryotech E36 has a moderate rating from the National Fire Protection Agency, which claims it can be irritating but not harmful to humans. Its manufacturer, Cryotech, asserts that the solution is biodegradable and has a “relatively harmless” classification by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  

“On a good year, we use around 5,000 gallons of pavement and aircraft de-icer,” Baird said. “This year, we will probably use closer to 10,000 gallons—5,000 for pavement and 5,000 for aircraft.”

He said airport staff would prefer not to use de-icer, but El NiƱo brought plenty of wet storms in the valley this year, causing the runway to freeze over once air temperatures dropped below freezing.

Aircraft de-icing used to take place at different locations along the airport’s runway, Baird said, but now de-icing agent is applied to aircraft at one spot at the northern end of the airport. Surrounding the area is an L-shaped trench drain that is in place to catch any de-icer runoff, which empties into a 1,500 gallon tank below.

“The idea is that the de-icer is heavier than the water, and once excess water fills the tank, that water is directed into storm water drains,” Baird said.

Each air carrier is responsible for conducting its own de-icing on aircraft in the designated area, and air carriers use Maxflight 04 and UCAR Flightguard AD-49, Baird said. Both are propylene glycol-based aircraft de-icing agents that are “generally recognized as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration as a food additive, the agency states on its website.

According to Clariant and Dow, the manufacturers of each agent, propylene glycol-based products are considered biodegradable, have a low tendency to accumulate in the food chain and haven’t been shown to cause cancer or birth defects in laboratory animals. But direct discharge of large amounts of the agent into waterways could harm aquatic life, the companies state.  

Baird said the airport chose products that are considered safe and have a minimal impact on the environment.

According to a map that Baird presented during the meeting, excess runoff from the airport runway and aircraft de-icing area is directed to storm water drains that run parallel to the runway and empty in an area at the south end of the airport. From there, excess water is filtered through a grassy area before entering dry storm wells.

Though the airport is not required to have Idaho Department of Environmental Quality employees monitor the runoff site, Baird said, a representative from the state agency visited Monday to offer an opinion on the possibility of contamination from de-icing agents. Baird said the DEQ employee who visited didn’t think the runoff site would pose a threat to the local ecosystem.

Airport consultant T-O Engineers will collect soil samples this week to be analyzed by a local firm, and test results should be available by the airport board’s April meeting, Baird said in an interview. He said results will be obtained and presented during the board’s May meeting at the latest.

Bellevue City Councilman Bob Leahy, who attended the airport board meeting Tuesday night, asked board members if they would be willing to test the city’s water wells for de-icing agents. Baird said in an interview Thursday that well testing in Bellevue would hinge on soil test results from soil in the overflow collection at the airport.

A photo of the aircraft de-icing area presented during the meeting Tuesday showed a slight mist on the ground, outlining the shape of an aircraft. Baird said that based on his observations, it’s highly unlikely that much of the aircraft de-icing agent overflow ends up in the collection tank unless it does so as a result of water runoff.

In the near future, Baird said, water and de-icing agent in the collection tank could be reused, disposed of or sent to Hailey for water treatment, pending a decision by the board.

Noise and air quality monitoring

A noise study of the airport hasn’t been conducted for nearly 20 years, Baird said. He asked the board for approval to begin the preliminary process of determining whether a noise modeling or monitoring study would be appropriate. Some residents may not be satisfied with a model study, Baird said, and costs for a noise monitoring study and possible reimbursement by the FAA need to be examined.

Baird said he would like to explore both model and monitoring options, and was given unanimous approval by the board to do so. Baird also got approval to begin exploring the feasibility of conducting a study on the airport’s impact on local air quality. Baird said an air-quality study was conducted in the Woodside area in the early 1990s, but monitoring was suspended as engineers determined that emissions from car traffic on state Highway 75 were influencing the tests.

Baird said the noise and air-quality studies will likely have to be conducted separately and will be feasible once small construction projects at the airport are completed in the coming months.

Voluntary Noise Abatement Committee formed

The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board unanimously approved nominations for the airport’s Voluntary Noise Abatement Committee during their regular meeting at the Old Blaine County Courthouse Tuesday night.  
The committee is made up of 12 representatives from Blaine County, the cities of Bellevue, Hailey, the aviation community and Atlantic Aviation, as well as three non-voting members from Friedman Memorial Airport and the Hailey air-traffic control tower.

Committee members will meet monthly to review the airport’s voluntary noise abatement and runway use programs, which request that pilots flying aircraft over 12,500 pounds not land from or take off to the north.

Friedman Memorial Airport Manager Rick Baird, who is a non-voting member on the board, said during the meeting that the committee will offer a monthly report to Authority Board members. Baird said the noise abatement committee’s first meeting be held during the first week of April and should be announced soon.

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