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Airport Goes Through Thousands of Gallons of Glycol Each Winter

Passenger safety isn't the only thing airports must keep in mind when it comes to de-icing planes. There's also the cost of de-icing fluid and how to dispose of the used glycol. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more...

From October 2008 to March 2009, the Springfield-Branson National Airport dispensed 20,000 gallons of glycol. When the airlines use a gallon, it gets mixed with an even amount of water, so 40,000 gallons of the mixture was sprayed.The airport currently pays $6.75 cents a gallon for glycol and airlines purchase it from the airport.Besides the cost, the airport also has to consider the environmental impact of glycol. Kent Boyd says the environmental regulations concerning de-icing fluid have become more stringent over the years.He says, in just the last couple of years, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has put rules in place that require airports and other industries to keep glycol out of the water system…

"The reason for this is that, even though glycol breaks down rather quickly and becomes harmless in the environment, that breaking down process involves the consumption of oxygen, so if glycol gets into a stream and as it begins that deterioration process, which doesn't take very long, it's taking oxygen out of the water, which obviously isn't good for the fish and other life that's in the water."

The new Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal will build detention basins for glycol in the next five years where the glycol that’s sprayed on planes will break down before being discharged into the stormwater system.Currently, the airport uses sweeper trucks that suck up the glycol and hold it in storage tanks until it can be disposed of