I noticed several tanks at BWI that store waste deicer fluid. They're in the foreground of the picture; the tanks in the background store Jet A.

Waste deicer fluid storage at BWI

What do airports like BWI do with deicer fluid after they collect it? This question is similar but it only partially answers my question. Is the fluid treated the same as household wastewater?


1 Answer 1


Generally it enters the ramp drainage system and flows out with the rest of the runoff. Sometimes its recycled and sometimes its just filtered out of the runoff water and disposed. The EPA has a lengthy report on it you can find here various airports have different methods for recycling it or filtering it out as well as water drainage systems that vary in complexity and scope. The report sheds some light on the various systems involved at different airports.

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Longer blurbs are available in the report (see section 7-1) for deeper descriptions.

Ultimately the components of De-Ice fluid break down fairly rapidly when released.

When released into the environment, both ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are expected to partition to surface or groundwater. They are expected to rapidly biodegrade and not to persist in the environment. Biodegradation rates depend on temperature and oxygen conditions and glycols biodegrade more slowly under anaerobic conditions. The half-life of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol in water under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, and in soil are shown below. Note that these data were not conducted under the same laboratory conditions and may not be directly comparable (5).

Smaller fields or those that can not afford complex systems may allow it to flow into installed drainage systems right off the ramp. The small field I fly out of has no formal system to dispose of it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That answers my question quite nicely. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2018 at 3:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For those curious POTW means Publicly Owned Treatment Work, i.e. a sewage treatment plant. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Sep 5, 2018 at 11:56

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