Plan would dump de-icing fluid from GR airport into Thornapple River

Officials at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids are seeking permission from the state to build a $15 million pipeline to dispose of a chemical used to melt snow and ice on aircraft by dumping it into a river. The nearly mile-long pipeline to the Thornapple River would be used for an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 gallons a year of de-icing fluid, WOOD-TV reported. A proposal was submitted Sept. 1 to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
AP Wire
Sep 9, 2011


The proposal follows a 2010 DEQ order to stop the runoff of de-icing fluid from the airport into a creek near the airport. The chemical is blamed for filling the creek with a smelly, cream-colored slime, and some worry that the Thornapple River will suffer because of the plan.

“Dumping it into the Thornapple without any type of filter doesn’t sound like the best option to us, and we don’t intend to accept that with open arms,” said Scott Rissi, president of the 300-member Cascade River Association, which covers part of the Thornapple River.

Airport officials believe there is enough fast-moving water in the river to dilute the fluid, according to airport facilities director Thomas Ecklund. He said the fluid creates a film on the water but doesn’t hurt water quality. Other airports have seen similar runoff problems.

“When we start de-icing, a month later, the biofilm develops,” Ecklund said.

The airport considered building a wastewater plant at the airport, but found that was too expensive, Ecklund said. Another possibility was building a centralized de-icing pad for aircraft, but it would cost $20 million to $30 million and would slow air traffic, he said.

If the project is approved, design work could begin next year.

The problem with runoff into the creek in Kent County’s Cascade Township was discovered in the 1990s and millions of dollars have been spent to capture as much of the chemical for recycling as possible.

William McCarrel, who lives along the creek and sits on a committee of airport stakeholders, said it creates a “gelatinous mass” every winter and spring. He first noticed the slime in the early 1990s. The creek previously was teeming with fish but now appears barren, he said.

“It’s dead; everything’s dead in this creek,” McCarrel said.



This is a travesty! Since when do we allow dumping a toxic chemical in our water ways? Are we back in the 50's?
This material cannot be dumped in any water way in Canada, why is it allowed here? Oh, its too expensive to contain! Well, my septic system costs too much for me to maintain, perhaps I will dump that in the nearest river. Funny thing Grand Rapids does that Too!
This should not be allowed and they should be fined for every ounce that escapes.
DEQ do your job!


They're too busy harrassing hunters who aren't breaking the law, to worry about sh#$ getting dumped in the river.


This sound about right... the government violating their own laws... Its like the city of Grand Haven... Every year the City of Grand Haven picks up all the snow with chemicals salt and sand... and dump it on the beach. and then push the snow and sand into Lake Michigan... Do they have a permit from the DNR or DEQ.... because I as a home owner on Lake Michigan... I surely can't do anything like this with out being arrested... But I guess its NO different then letting dogs on the beach do their duty and leave it sit. So is this really a big issue... Grand Rapids has been sending there sewage down the Grand River for years... and nothing was done about this.... but a oil spill... hang on...


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